Netanyahu asks Russia to pardon American-Israeli sentenced to jail on drug charges

Netanyahu asks Russia to pardon American-Israeli sentenced to jail on drug charges
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE Tuesday asked Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinSchiff shows clip of McCain in Trump impeachment trial The need for clear thinking about Russia German president expresses 'sorrow' for Holocaust, warns 'spirits of evil' are rising MORE to pardon an American-Israeli woman who was jailed after authorities found cannabis in her luggage at a Moscow airport.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent, this evening, an official request, on his behalf and that of President Reuven Rivlin, to Russian President Vladimir Putin, for a pardon for Naama Issachar and her return to Israel,” Netanyahu’s office tweeted.


The request comes after a Russian court sentenced Issachar, who was born in New Jersey, to 7 1/2 years in prison for drug smuggling. She was arrested in April when police found 9 grams of cannabis in her bags during a layover between India and Israel, according to Reuters.

Rivlin first appealed to Moscow after the sentencing, saying Issachar “made a grave mistake and has admitted her crime” but that “the severe sentence handed down will have a deeply destructive impact on her life.” 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters that Putin would consider Rivlin’s request once it was received via diplomatic channels.

Issachar’s family is accusing Russia of issuing a disproportionately harsh sentence to pressure Israel to free a Russian held on a U.S. extradition request. Israel has detained Alexei Burkov since 2015, saying he is wanted in the United States for alleged cyber offenses, according to Reuters.

Netanyahu has ruled out exchanging Issachar for Burkov, saying Israel’s Supreme Court has already approved the Russian national’s extradition to the United States.