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Netanyahu Asks Putin For Pardon Of Woman Found With Cannabis In Luggage

Naama Issachar was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison in Russia.
Naama Issachar was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison in Russia.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin called to congratulate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his 70th birthday on October 21, the Israeli leader asked about the possibility for Moscow to pardon U.S.-Israeli national Naama Issachar, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said.

The personal request followed up on a formal letter that Netanyahu sent to Putin last week asking for the pardoning of Issachar, who was sentenced by Russia this month to 7 1/2 years in jail for drug smuggling.

Born in New Jersey, Issachar was arrested in April after police found 9 grams of cannabis in her luggage during a layover at a Moscow airport.

The official Kremlin readout of the phone conversation doesn’t mention the plight of 26-year-old Issachar. It instead said that the two men “discussed current bilateral topics and Syria.”

At a briefing with reporters in Moscow, Ushakov said the woman’s plight was “touched upon in one way or another.”

Issachar was flying from India to Israel when she was detained, and wasn’t supposed to exit the airport in Russia.

Before her sentencing, Netanyahu ruled out a possible swap for Russian national Aleksei Burkov who was detained in 2015.

Israeli officials say the United States wants to extradite Burkov for alleged cybercrimes.

Based on reporting by The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and Reuters