Rallies In Tel Aviv And New York Call For Release Of Naama Issachar Jailed In Russia

Family, friends and supporters call for the release of Naama Issachar, an Israeli-American woman imprisoned in Russia for drug offenses, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on October 19, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Simultaneous rallies calling for the release of an Israeli-American woman in prison in Russia on drug charges were held in Tel Aviv an New York.

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The rally in New York calling for the release of Naama Issachar was held outside of the Russian embassy. Hundreds attended rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

“We are not political people — we just want Naama to come home. It’s a call for anyone who can help, no matter if they are politicians or businessmen, Russian, American or Israeli. We call on anyone who can help get Naama out of prison,” her friend, identified as Tzlil, told Channel 12 News.

Issachar, 26, was sentenced more than a week ago to 7.5 years in prison for drug smuggling. She has been detained in Russia since April after 9 grams of marijuana were found in her luggage before a connecting flight in Russia on the way from India to Israel, where she moved while in high school. She had not planned to enter Russia. Nine grams is less than a third of an ounce and is within the legal limit for personal use in Israel.

Russia had tried exchanging Issachar for Aleksey Burkov, a Russian hacker held in Israel set to be extradited to the United States.

Israel reportedly turned down requests to send Burkov to Russia in exchange for Issachar. Issachar’s family on Friday asked Israeli Justice Minister Amir Ohana to delay Burkov’s extradition.

Netanyahu reportedly raised the subject during a meeting on Friday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to Israeli media reports.

He also discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Sochi on Sept. 12 and during a phone call last week. On Tuesday he formally requested a pardon for Issachar.

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4 years ago

Americans, Israelis, or anyone who flies internationally should know the following; if you decide to travel with illegal drugs, you do it at your own risk. In some countries, such as Singapore, and Malaysia, those caught with illegal drugs in their luggage, have been executed. There have even been cases, of tourists traveling with legal prescription drugs, which are clearly marked on the individual bottles, who have been harassed by immigration officials of various countries, because they didn’t bring a Doctor’s note stating that they must take those prescription drugs. Every country has different regulations regarding the latter.
I don’t know if Ms. Isaachar placed the marijuana in her luggage, or someone (without her knowledge), put it inside. I know that before we travel, we should scan our checked in luggage numerous times, to make sure nothing illegal was placed inside, by a third party. Unfortunately, it is not possible to lock one’s luggage any longer, as TSA regulations prohibit that. If the luggage is locked, they will only break the locks.
Personally, I think that this poor woman is being held as a bargaining chip, to get an imprisoned Russian hacker, out of an Israeli prison. Netanyahu should swallow his pride, and deport the Russian hacker Burkov, to Russia, in exchange for Ms. Isaachar.
I hope that this is resolved soon, and Ms. Isaachar will be released in the not too distant future. She doesn’t deserve to spend seven years in a Russian prison. We remember what happened to the Yeshivah bochurs, some of whom had to spend several years in a Japanese prison, because they had illegal drugs in their luggage. At that time, a Japanese Judge ruled, that “even if they didn’t know that someone placed illegal drugs in their suitcases, they should have known, and should have been more careful”.

4 years ago

Seems odd the Israeli want the Russians send back a drug trafficker while at the same time they are slow-walking returning a child molester to Australia.

4 years ago

Hey, Paul, you should watch what you write; there is no definitive proof that the young woman was a drug trafficker. She could have been using the marijuana for her own personal use. “Justice” in Russia, is not really justice.