Nati Hadad, an Israeli man who was sentenced in 2018 to four years in prison in Thailand for operating an illegal medical clinic, as well as firearms offenses, will serve out the remainder of his sentence in Israel, President Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday.
“Thai authorities have decided that Nati Hadad will be transferred to serve the rest of his sentence in Israel,” Rivlin’s office said in a statement.
“President Rivlin would like to express his thanks to the King of Thailand and all those involved in handling the process, which was led by MK Ayelet Shaked.”
Shaked, the former justice minister, tweeted that it was “very happy news” resulting from “almost two years of hard work” by herself and the president.
Following my approach to the King of #Thailand the Thai authorities have decided that Nati Hadad will be transferred to serve the rest of his sentence in #Israel. My thanks to the King of Thailand and those involved in handling the process, led by MK Ayelet Shaked.
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) March 24, 2020
Rivlin in June 2019 sent a letter to the Thai king asking him to grant Hadad, who has been reported to be in ill health and to have attempted suicide, a royal pardon due to his “critical medical and mental state.”
It was unclear if the decision was related to the coronavirus crisis.
Hadad’s mother, Nurit Cohen, told Channel 12 that she felt like she was giving birth to her son all over again.
“I thank God for getting my son out of this hell,” she said. “Today I gave birth to Nati all over again, I feel like I just left the labor room. For me it is a miracle that he is coming home safe, that he didn’t die there and that I don’t have to get him back in a black bag.”
She thanked the Foreign Ministry and the officials who took part in the effort, including Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, expressing hope that her son would come to Israel as soon as possible so that he doesn’t catch the coronavirus.
Cohen added that Nati didn’t yet know he was being sent to Israel, but he would be told by Wednesday morning.
The news came as Thailand’s prime minister declared a state of emergency following an uptick in cases of the virus there.
Exactly a year ago, Israeli media reported on Hadad’s imminent return, though it never materialized.
In addition to improving his prison conditions, by moving to Israel, Hadad will be able to participate in local rehabilitation programs which could qualify him for an early release in the future, the reports said.
Hadad was jailed following his arrest in 2017 for operating an illegal clinic on the island of Koh Samui and being in possession of an unlicensed handgun. He reportedly provided medicines and medical services for Israelis visiting Thailand.