Netanyahu calls Putin, asks for release of Israeli Naama Issachar

The Russian account of the phone call was slightly different, with no mention of Naama Issachar.

By TPS and World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss foreign policy and request the release of American-Israeli Naama Issachar, 26, from a Russian prison. The leaders also exchanged seasonal greetings.

“I spoke on the phone today with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Iran and the situation in Syria. I asked the President once again to bring about the release of Naama Issachar,” Netanyahu tweeted.

“President Putin wished me a happy Chanukah. I thanked him, and I, in turn, wished him a happy Novy God,” he added.

Netanyahu’s call to the Russian president came at a time when Israel and Russia have apparently experienced a decline in their bilateral relations.

One major source of tension, which Netanyahu said was discussed during the call, is Issachar’s imprisonment. She was sentenced to seven-and-a-half-years when 9.5 grams of marijuana were found in her checked-in luggage on a layover from India to Israel – an exaggerated punishment that did not fit the crime. Issachar claims she had not bought the drugs, she did not know that they were in her baggage and she had no idea how they got there.

She appealed the sentence, without success. In the written part of the appeal, Issachar’s lawyers said that the translation of her interrogation was of such poor quality that it contributed to her incriminating herself.

Russian and Israeli diplomats recently convened in Jerusalem to discuss the matter of Issachar’s imprisonment as well as the recent detainment of dozens of Israelis at Russian airports.

Netanyahu promised at a rally last week that he would “Bring Naama Home,” but his spokesperson later clarified that doing so would likely take time.

In an interview on Wednesday, Netanyahu again vowed to bring Issachar back to Israel.

“I will get it done. And I can tell you, it will not take seven-and-a-half-years, it will not take years… Putin has the right to pardon her, I hope and believe that he will execute his right. I have spoken to him many times about it and asked in every possible way,” he said.

The Russian account of the phone call was slightly different, with no mention of Issachar.

“Following an Israeli request, President Vladimir Putin conducted a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. They discussed issues on the regional agenda, as well as some bilateral issues as part of the Russian president’s planned visit to Israel in January 2020,” the Kremlin said.