Support The Moscow Times!

Russia Sentences U.S.-Israeli Woman to 7.5 Years Over Airport Marijuana Possession

Naama Issachar Instagram

A Russian court has sentenced a U.S.-Israeli woman to seven and a half years in prison on charges of drug possession and smuggling, her lawyer told Russian media Friday.

Police detained Naama Issachar, 25, in April while in transit in a Moscow airport and accused her of having 9 grams of cannabis in her bag, Israeli officials and Russian media have said. She had been flying from New Delhi to Tel Aviv.

Issachar pleaded not guilty to the drug smuggling charges but didn't deny that the cannabis in her bag was hers, the Mediazona news website reported.

Prosecutors had requested that she be sentenced to eight years.

Israel condemned the Russian court's sentencing as "heavy" and "disproportionate," saying Moscow had ignored its appeals to handle the case differently and that Issachar had no criminal record when she was detained.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to secure Issachar's release, his office said earlier Friday.

Netanyahu has twice discussed her case with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israel will "continue to exert every effort to free (her) and return her to her family," it said in a statement.

Russia's state-run RT media channel suggested on Thursday that Issachar might be released if Israel frees Alexei Burkov, a Russian national it detained in 2015. Israel said the United States wanted to extradite Burkov for suspected cybercrimes.

But the statement issued by Netanyahu's office ruled out any such prisoner swap.

This story is being updated.

Reuters contributed reporting.

… we have a small favor to ask.

As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just 2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.


Read more