MOSCOW (VosIzNeias) — As previously reported by VosIzNeias, an Israeli woman was arrested in Moscow on her way back to Israel from a post-service trip in India. Naama Issachar was pulled aside in the airport after Russian officials found 9 grams of marijuana in her luggage, an amount that would be non-prosecutable in Israel. Issachar denies that her intention was to cross Russian border security, and therefore can not be classified as a drug smuggler.
Issachar was first held in prison for several months, only being allowed minimal family visits and phonecalls. For the first few months she had not been allowed to air her defense.
But now Russia has announced a verdict. Issachar has been sentenced to 7.5 years in prison. Israel’s Foreign Ministry has called the sentence “excessive.”
According to reports, the sentencing comes after Israel rejected several attempts by the Russian government to arrange a prisoner exchange. Russia sought the release of Aleksey Burkov, a Russian IT specialist who was arrested in Israel in 2016 at the request of Interpol. Burkov is accused of being the mastermind behind a massive multi-million dollar credit card fraud scheme in the United States. Burkov is currently scheduled to be extradited to the United States.
Israel had reportedly rejected the exchange, so as not to damage their relationship with the US, since the extradition process had already been initiated. Cancelling the extradition was not possible, since the Supreme Court had already approved the move.