Courtesy of JNS 

Protesters call for the release of Naama Issachar, an Israeli woman imprisoned in Russia for drug offenses, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on Oct. 19, 2019.


(JNS/Israel Hayom) Naama Issachar, an Israeli-American woman who has been imprisoned in Russia on drug charges since April, was released from prison on Jan. 30, the Russian prison service said in a statement.

“Due to the presidential decree on pardoning, Naama Issachar has been freed from prison,” said the statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned Issachar on Jan. 29.

Issachar, 27, was arrested in April after police found 9.5 grams of cannabis in her luggage during a layover in a Moscow airport, en route from India to Israel. Sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail, Issachar petitioned for a presidential pardon after Putin met her mother during a visit to Jerusalem last week.

“Guided by the principle of humanity, I hereby order that Naama Issachar be pardoned,” read Putin’s decree, which the Kremlin said took immediate effect.

Issachar flew back to Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was visiting Moscow on Jan. 30 and met with Putin.

A senior member of the team that headed the efforts to see Issachar released stressed that Israel has given Russia nothing in return for the move. Her release was a goodwill gesture to the United States and Israel, he said.

Earlier in January, Israel released two prisoners with links to Syria in what was seen as a goodwill gesture towards Moscow, a key Damascus ally, in the hope of setting the stage for Issachar’s release.

Netanyahu took to Twitter to thank “my friend, Putin” for Issachar’s pardon.

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