Naama Issachar: US-Israeli woman released from Russian prison

Naama Issachar and her mother are greeted in Moscow by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Sara Netanyahu Image copyright Israeli Prime Minister
Image caption Hours after her release Issachar (L) and her mother were greeted in Moscow by the Israeli prime minister and his wife (2nd R)

Russia has released a dual US-Israeli national who was detained on charges of drug trafficking last year.

Naama Issachar, 26, was arrested in Moscow in April 2019 after more than nine grams of marijuana were found in her luggage. She was later sentenced to more than seven years in prison.

President Putin pardoned Issachar on Wednesday.

The decision came ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow on Thursday.

Mr Netanyahu thanked his “friend” Mr Putin for the decision to pardon Issachar.

He later posted a video on social media of him meeting Issachar with the message: “Naama, we’re going home.” They then left for Israel on the prime minister’s plane.

“Finally, thank God, thanks to everyone,” her mother, Yaffa Issachar, said.

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Media captionNaama Issachar was detained after more than nine grams of marijuana were found in her luggage

Israeli media have reported that the Israeli government was willing to relinquish ownership of a complex in Jerusalem – symbolic to the Russian Orthodox Church – as a goodwill gesture ahead of Issachar’s release.

Ownership of the Alexander Courtyard, which lies in Jerusalem’s Old City near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, has been disputed for decades, but an Israeli court recently ruled in Russia’s favour.

Naama Issachar was returning from a trip to India when she was detained.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Putin met Naama Issachar’s mother, Yaffa, during a visit to Jerusalem last week

Her case gained widespread attention in Israel, with local media accusing Moscow of using it to pressure Israel over a jailed Russian hacker, whose extradition was requested by both the US and Russian governments.

The hacker, Aleksey Burkov, was extradited to the US in November.