Israeli-American jailed in Russia moved back to Moscow prison

Naama Issachar had been transferred to a remote facility last week, without winter clothes and books, after losing appeal over drug charges

Israeli-American Naama Issachar, jailed for drug smuggling, attends her appeal hearing at the Moscow Regional Court on December 19, 2019. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP)
Israeli-American Naama Issachar, jailed for drug smuggling, attends her appeal hearing at the Moscow Regional Court on December 19, 2019. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP)

An Israeli-American woman imprisoned in Russia on drug charges was moved back to a Moscow facility on Wednesday after having been abruptly relocated last week to a remote prison.

The restoration of Naama Issachar’s pre-appeal conditions was not immediately explained by Hebrew media reports that confirmed the move.

Issachar’s family and lawyers had not been informed of the move out of Moscow, which occurred Friday, the family wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

She had been moved to “Prison 11,” which her family said was far away from the Moscow facility where she was previously being held, but did not specify the location.

Issachar, 27, was located Monday by the Israeli consul-general in Russia and subsequently visited by her lawyer, who found she was without the winter clothes and books her mother gave her and was being held in difficult conditions.

The family said Tuesday the lawyer was told Issachar would be moved to another prison. “We are doing everything to put an end to this nightmare our girl is going through,” the family said. “We will bring her home.”

Issachar’s mother Yaffa said the consul-general unsuccessfully tried to arrange for her to see her daughter.

“There are visits at this place. The consul-general tried to organize for me to meet her but was unsuccessful,”

Issachar has been held by Russia since April when some 10 grams of cannabis were found in her luggage during a layover in Moscow.

She was sentenced to seven and a half years for drug smuggling, a charge she denied, noting she did not plan to enter Russia during the stopover on her way back to Israel from India.

Yaffa Issachar, mother of Israeli-American Naama Issachar who is jailed for drug smuggling, attends the appeal trial of her daughter at the Moscow Regional Court on December 19, 2019. (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

A Russian court last month rejected an appeal against her conviction. Her mother said she would file another appeal with a higher-level court and also turn to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Issachar’s case has become a cause celebre in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has called the prison sentence “absurd,” asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to pardon her in a phone call last week.

Moscow has said the Russian leader would consider the request.

Netanyahu, who has touted close ties with Moscow, promised during a campaign event earlier this month to spring Issachar from Russian prison, raising hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough.

After the December appeal hearing, Netanyahu told Issachar’s mother that he was continuing to work for her release. Israeli officials have expressed hopes that Putin will release Issachar as a goodwill gesture before or during his visit to Israel next month.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Moscow on April 4, 2019. (Koby Gideon/GPO)

During the hearing, Naama told the judges that she not only “had no intention” of bringing drugs into Russia, but stressed that she “had not even passed the customs control” when she was stopped.

Issachar said she did not know what was written in the confession she had signed because it was in Russian and there was no translator present. The judges discussed the decision for roughly 20 minutes and ruled against the appeal in a one-sentence statement.

Moscow had tried exchanging Issachar for Russian hacker Aleksey Burkov, but its advances were turned down by Israeli officials, who said they feared setting a precedent. Israel then extradited Burkov as scheduled to the United States, where he was wanted on embezzlement charges for a credit card scheme that allegedly stole millions of dollars from American consumers.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.