A Russian court will hear the appeal next month of an Israeli-American backpacker sentenced to over seven years in prison after marijuana was found in her luggage during a stopover in Moscow.
Naama Issachar’s hearing is scheduled for December 12, Russian media reports said.
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.
Nine grams is less than a third of an ounce and is within the legal limit for personal use in Israel. It generally gets a slap on the wrist in Russia.
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 who said they feared setting a precedent.
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’s mother Yaffa last week asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to pardon her daughter in a letter delivered through the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, the Hebrew daily Maariv reported Monday.
The patriarch met last week with Putin in Moscow, where he was visiting at the invitation of the Russian Orthodox Church. He met with Yaffa Issachar in Jerusalem before leaving for Russia and delivered her message directly to Putin.
“Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich! I, Yaffa Issachar, the mother of Naama Issachar, who has been in prison for seven months, plead with the heartache of a mother to pardon my daughter and return her to her family,” the message read, according to Maariv.