Russian spy’s release from US gives hope that Israeli prisoner may soon be freed

Butina was arrested by the FBI in July 2018 with conspiring to act as a foreign agent for Russia.

The U.S. sent a convicted Russian spy back to her country on Saturday, reports multiple media sources.

“Russians never surrender,” Maira Butina told reporters as she landed in Russia’s Sheremetyevo airport.

Butina was arrested by the FBI in July 2018 with conspiring to act as a foreign agent for Russia.

According to the BBC, Butina’s charge stemmed from trying to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and her relationship with Alexander Torshin, a deputy chairman of the Russian Central Bank who has been put under sanctions for allegedly funneled money to the NRA to gain influence in U.S. conservative politics.

The prosecution alleges that Butina worked under the guidance of Torshin.

With Butina’s release, there is speculation in Israel that Naama Issachar could be released and sent back home.

“It’s possible that the release of Butina is a first step in a transaction, in the framework of which the Russians receive Butina, Israel receives Issachar and the U.S. receives the suspect in cybercrimes, Alexei Burkov,” reports Israel Hayom.

In April, Issachar was heading back to Tel Aviv after a three-month vacation in India. She was arrested while waiting for her connecting flight in Moscow after Russian authorities discovered 9.2 ounces of marijuana in her luggage.

Despite denying any knowledge of the drugs or how they got into her checked-in baggage, Issachar was taken from the airport to a detention center in Moscow.

She was initially charged with drug possession which often entails one month of detention, a fine and a ban on entering the country. However, shortly afterward, the public prosecutor upped the charge to drug smuggling.

On October 11, Issachar was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.

Her family reports that she is in bad shape and can’t see the end of the tunnel. They said a report last week saying she was in good health, learning Russian and practicing yoga with her fellow inmates by Russian news site RT was staged.