Russia is set to release a four-year-old Israeli girl who was detained some two weeks ago by authorities for allegedly overstaying her visa, Hebrew media reported Friday.
Emily Mulner, who is on the autistic spectrum, traveled with her grandmother to Saint Petersburg six months ago to participate in a special program there to better prepare her for school, her parents said.
But a day before her intended return Mulner’s parents were told she was being detained for overstaying her visa.
Emily’s father Yigal said after her detainment: “They made a 4.5-year-old girl into a criminal, invading terrorist.” Yigal complained that Israel’s Foreign Ministry was unhelpful.
“Israel’s Embassy in Russia told us we broke the country’s federal laws, that it’s our problem and that we should get a lawyer.”
On Friday Yigal confirmed that Emily would be allowed to fly back to Israel.
Russia is still holding an Israeli-American backpacker sentenced to over seven years in prison after marijuana was found in her luggage during a stopover in Moscow.
Issachar was sentenced in Russia last month to seven and a half years in prison for drug smuggling after authorities in April found 9 grams of marijuana in her luggage before a connecting flight on the way from India to Israel. She had not planned to enter Russia during the stopover.
Issachar’s family and some Israeli officials have said the arrest and harsh sentence were politically motivated. Russia had tried exchanging Issachar for Russian hacker Aleksey Burkov, but its advances were turned down by Israeli officials. Earlier this month, Israel extradited Burkov to the United States, where he is wanted on embezzlement charges for a credit card scheme that allegedly stole millions of dollars from American consumers.
Issachar is appealing her sentence. A court hearing is scheduled for December 12, according to Russian media reports.