(October 15, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to pardon 26-year-old Israeli-American Naama Issachar, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed on Tuesday.
A day prior, President Reuven Rivlin sent Putin a letter, in which he recognized the Russian leader as “a friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” and requesting that he grant Issachar a pardon.
“Naama made a grave mistake and has admitted her crime, but in the case of a young woman with no criminal record, the severe sentence handed down will have a deeply destructive impact on her life,” he wrote. “Because of the particular and individual circumstances of Na’ama Issachar’s case, I am appealing to your mercy and compassion with a request for your personal intervention to grant her an extraordinary pardon.”
Issachar was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison in Russia on Friday, after authorities found 9.5 grams of cannabis in her checked luggage on a connecting flight through Moscow on her way to Israel from India several months ago.
According to reports, Putin is already considering Israel’s request.
It is believed that Issachar’s heavy sentence may have been designed to pressure Israel into stopping the already-approved extradition to the United States of Russian cyber-criminal Alexei Borkov’s. Borkov, who is wanted in the United States on suspicion of hacking U.S. credit card databases, has been detained in Israel since 2015.
According to reports, Russia proposed a prisoner swap this summer, which Israel rejected. Netanyahu and Putin reportedly discussed the proposed swap last month in Sochi, Russia.
Burkov’s extradition must be formally approved by Israeli Justice Minister Amir Ohana, who on Saturday said he would make a decision on the case within days.
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