Israeli jailed in Russia released, returns home

January 31, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Na’ama Issachar, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in Russia for a minor drug offence, was released and returned home to Israel on Thursday after serving 10 months in prison.

PM Netanyahu and his wife Sara meet Na’ama Issachar and her mother Yaffa. (Koby Gideon/GPO)

Issachar arrived in Israel together with her mother Yaffa on a flight with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who made a quick trip to Moscow on his way back from Washington.

Issachar’s release was secured after a vigorous Israeli diplomatic campaign on her behalf and after she was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

During his meeting with Putin in Moscow on Thursday, Netanyahu thanked him “on behalf of the people of Israel for your quick decision to give a pardon to Naama Issachar. This moves all of us and our gratitude is on behalf of all Israeli citizens, from the heart.”

Netanyahu and his wife Sara met Issachar and her mother at the airport in Moscow.

“It is very moving to see you. Now we return home,” the Prime Minister said.

President Reuven Rivlin said he was “so happy to get the news of President Putin’s decision to pardon Naama and I thank him for the wisdom and mercy of the decision.”

“The Prime Minister’s important work on her release is praiseworthy. Our best wishes to the whole Issachar family,” he added.

Officials close to Netanyahu credited the “significant progress” towards Issachar’s release to the “close and personal relationship” between Netanyahu and Putin.

Netanyahu spoke to Putin seven times about Issachar’s release, and along with conversations held between Israeli and Russian officials, the issue was raised about 20 times since Issachar’s arrest on April 9 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, where she had stopped for a connecting flight to Tel Aviv from New Delhi. Russian authorities found 9.5 grams of cannabis in her luggage and arrested her.

In Jerusalem last week, Putin said that “everything will be alright” in regards to Issachar’s release.

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