Putin asked to release Israeli woman convicted of hemp smuggling

Last week, the bishop of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, Theophilus III, asked Vladimir Putin to release the Israeli woman Naama Issachar, convicted of smuggling hemp. The prisoner’s mother, Jaffa Issachar, sent a letter to the President of Russia asking him to pardon her daughter.

Israelis outraged by harsh punishment for smuggling cannabis

Naama was detained on April 9, 2019, in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport during a transfer on a flight Moscow – Tel Aviv. In the luggage, women found 9.6 grams of hashish. On October 11, the Khimki court found Issahar guilty of an offense under Part 2 of Art. 229.1 of the Criminal Code (drug smuggling in a significant amount), and sentenced her to 7.5 years in prison.

The lawyer of the convict Alexander Gambaryan said that in Israel for a similar offense punished much milder. In the worst case, Naama would receive several months of correctional labor. According to the lawyer, Issakhar’s compatriots were outraged by the cruel sentence and therefore launched a public campaign to free the girl. Gambaryan notes that resonance could have been avoided if Naama had been given six months in prison. However, part 2 of article 229.1 provides for punishment in the form of imprisonment for a term of five to 10 years, so the judge could not pass such a lenient sentence.

Bishop speaks for the pardon of Naama

On November 19, Theophilus III was invited by the Russian Orthodox Church to the ceremony of presenting the Prize of the Fund for the Unity of Orthodox Peoples. Before leaving Russia, the bishop met with Jaffa Issahar and found out from her information about the conditions under which Naama was detained, and promised to make an effort to secure her release. During a meeting with Putin, Theophilus III asked the president to pardon the Israeli woman and handed a letter from the mother to the prisoner.

Jaffa’s letter begins with the words: “Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich! I, Jaffa Issachar, the mother of Naama Issachar, who has been in prison for seven months, implore my daughter to have mercy and return her to the family with pain in my heart.”

Issachar wanted to be exchanged for a Russian hacker

The Israelis suggest that Russian law enforcement officers arrested Naama in order to subsequently exchange her for the hacker Alexei Burkov, who at that time was in custody in Israel. However, at the end of October, Israeli Minister of Justice Amir Ohana signed documents on the extradition of Burkov to the United States, where he is accused of fraud. Issachar’s lawyers appealed the Minister’s decision in the Supreme Court, saying that the transfer of Alexei to the Americans “will put an end to Naama’s fate.” However, the court refused to grant the request, and Burkov was sent to the United States on November 11.

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