Netanyahu to formally ask Putin to release imprisoned Israeli woman

“Anyone travelling to Russia should ask himself if he wants to wind up in a situation of Naama Issachar,” said minister Ze’ev Elkin.

By World Israel News Staff 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will officially request on Tuesday that Russia release Naama Issachar, 26, an Israeli woman who was sentenced to a seven-and-a-half year prison term last week after authorities said that they had found about 9.5 grams of cannabis in her luggage on a stopover in Moscow in April, as she was on her way back home to Israel from India.

Issachar argues that the drug was not hers and that she does not know how it wound up in her baggage.

Netanyahu will officially submit a request to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, according to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a confidant of the prime minister, speaking in an interview on Israeli Kan public radio.

Naama’s mother, Yaffa, told Kan that she had visited her daughter in the Russian jail on Monday.

Yaffa said Naama was “physically and emotionally exhausted,” and told her mother in exasperation: “I can’t anymore. I just want to get out of this prison, please.”

“She obviously fell victim to something unrelated to her,” said Foreign Minister Israel Katz in an interview on Israeli Channel 12 News on Saturday. “We are working on the issue as the State of Israel,” he noted.

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“Her situation became more complicated as reports emerged that Putin requested a swap deal involving Naama and Russian hacker Alexei Borkov, who has been detained in Israel for the past four years and is wanted by the United States for suspected cyber offenses,” reports the Israel Hayom daily.

“In August, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Borkov extraditable to the U.S., in spite of his request that he be extradited to Moscow rather than Washington. Borkov was arrested at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport on Dec. 13, 2015, at the request of the American government,” it adds.

Another Netanyahu cabinet confidant, Evironmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, warned that Israelis should think twice about visiting Russia.

Regarding the Israeli woman’s incarceration, Elkin, who was born in the former Soviet Union, in what is currently Ukraine, told the Israeli public broadcaster: “Anyone travelling to Russia should ask himself if he wants to wind up in a situation [like that] of Naama Issachar.”

Elkin added that once the Israeli Supreme Court issued its ruling, the extradition of Borkov to the U.S. cannot be rescinded.