Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Russia to release Naama Issachar from Prison Imminently

An Israeli official on Wednesday said Russia was set to release Israeli-American backpacker Naama Issachar from prison imminently, ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday that Netanyahu would travel to Russia from Washington to update Putin on US President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, raising speculation the trip could herald Issachar’s release.
Putin, who has the final say on a pardon for Issachar, has yet to publicly announce a decision on her fate.
The Israeli official said the expected release was the result of a Russian goodwill gesture toward the United States, stressing that Israel did not give Moscow anything in return.
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“There was no deal with Russia. Naama’s release was done as a gesture by President [Vladimir] Putin to the US,” a senior official in an inter-ministerial committee dealing with the case told reporters in Netanyahu’s entourage.
According to Hebrew media reports, Russia has asked Israel to transfer a piece of Russian Orthodox Church property near the Old City of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Kremlin, as a goodwill gesture ahead of Issachar’s release.
Russia has been demanding Israel hand over rights to Alexander’s Courtyard for over a decade, but Justice Ministry officials along with two senior Likud lawmakers who are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Yuli Edelstein and Ze’ev Elkin, have opposed the measure.
Last week, a Russian national whose extradition from Israel to the US was believed to be linked to Isaachar’s fate, pleaded guilty to running a website that helped people commit more than $20 million in credit card fraud. Aleksey Burkov, 29, of St. Petersburg, Russia, entered the plea to charges including fraud and money laundering in a federal court in Virginia.
The government dealt with Issachar’s case not only because of the state’s responsibility toward all its citizens but also out of a desire to solve a problem “that could hurt the sensitive relations between Russia and Israel,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Securing Issachar’s release could boost Netanyahu’s popularity ahead of the March 2 elections, the third in less than a year after the prime minister failed to form a government in the previous two rounds of voting. The announcement by the Prime Minister’s Office of the trip to Russia came less than an hour after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed an indictment against Netanyahu for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust with the Jerusalem District Court.
Issachar, 27, was sentenced by Russia to 7.5 years in prison after nearly 10 grams of marijuana were found in her luggage during a layover in a Moscow airport in April. She has denied smuggling drugs, noting she had not sought to enter Russia during the layover on her way to Israel from India, and had no access to her luggage during her brief stay in the Russian airport.
On Tuesday, Moscow regional governor Andrei Vorobyev signed her pardon request, the final step necessary before the matter can be taken up by Putin.
Following Vorobyev’s signing of the petition filed by Issachar, the Kremlin said that “the necessary legal proceedings are in progress so that the president can make his decision on this issue in the near future.”
Putin was in Israel last Thursday for a one-day visit to attend the World Holocaust Forum, which this year marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, smile as Yaffa Issachar, second left, the mother of Naama Issachar, who is imprisoned in Russia, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020, ahead of the World Holocaust Forum. (Heidi Levine/Pool/AFP)
During his visit, Putin met Yaffa Issachar, the mother of Naama, and said in a press statement after the meeting that “everything will be all right.” He said that it was clear to him from meeting Yaffa Issachar that her daughter comes from a “good, decent family.”
Yaffa Issachar told Israeli reporters then that she was smiling after the Jerusalem meeting because “Putin told me: ‘I’ll bring the girl home.’ Really. Let’s wait and see, there is no date for the release.”
Issachar has become a cause célèbre in Israel, where her arrest and sentence are largely viewed as politically motivated. Netanyahu has promised the family to work for her release and has expressed hopes for securing a pardo


Anonymous said...

And she's gonna come back to the Holy Land on Bibi's private/official jet. And I have inside information that Bibi has prepared a surprise for her. The poor girl hasn't been able to smoke a joint for 10 months! Bibi has gotten some quality stuff for her, and the trio is gonna celebrate in the smoking section. Naama with a joint, Bibi with his Cohiba Esplendido Cuban cigar, and Sarah with her bottle of champagne.

Anonymous said...

She was a drug mule, let her rot.