Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured the mother of an Israeli woman being held on drug charges in Moscow that her daughter “will be okay.”
Putin met on January 23 with the mother of Naama Issachar, who was arrested at a Moscow airport in April 2019 en route to another country.
Police at the time said they found a small amount of marijuana in Naama Issachar’s luggage and charged her with drug smuggling. Issachar, who was born in New Jersey and also holds U.S. citizenship, has denied the charges. In October, a Russian court sentenced her to 7 1/2 years in prison.
"I have just met with Naama's mother; it is clear to me that Naama comes from a good and very decent family,” Putin said after the meeting, which was also attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Her mother is very worried, I can see that. I have told her, and I am saying this again: all will be well," he added.
While Putin gave no further details, Issachar's lawyer, Vadim Klyuvgant, said he was optimistic a resolution was close at hand.
"Given the president's statement, of course, we are expecting her release to happen in the near future,” he was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency Interfax.
“The president did not specify the method by which all will be made well, so I think we should be patient and wait," Klyuvgant added.
Issachar told a Moscow court during a failed appeal in December that she did not buy the drugs and did not know they were in her bag. An earlier admission of guilt, she added, was due to a bad translation.
Many Israelis were outraged by the sentence which Netanyahu, who has cultivated good relations with Putin, has criticized as being disproportionate.
Issacher’s relatives, meanwhile, have publicly accused Russian authorities of holding the 27-year-old Issachar as a bargaining chip to persuade Netanyahu to turn over Aleksei Burkov, who was the subject of a three-year diplomatic scuffle between the Kremlin, Israel, and the United States, to Russia.
Burkov was arrested in December 2015 while leaving Israel and was extradited to the United States in November.
Putin was in Jerusalem to participate in a private forum connected to the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
The forum is being hosted and paid for by Russian-Israeli oligarch Moshe Kantor, who has been identified by the United States as having close Kremlin connections.