Israeli-American jailed in Russia abruptly moved to remote prison

Israeli Naama Issachar gestures during an appeal hearings in a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. An Israeli backpacker serving prison time in Russia on a drug conviction is appealing her case and says she was wasn't provided a translator or lawyer after being detained at a Moscow airport. She was arrested in April in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, where she was transferring flights en route from India to Israel. More than nine grams of hashish were found in her luggage. She was later sentenced to 7 1/2 years. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr.)

Naama Issachar’s family not notified of transfer; diplomat who locates her says she wasn’t allowed to bring winter clothes and books; lawyer: she’ll be moved to another site

By TOI STAFF Today, 9:03 pm

An Israeli-American woman imprisoned in Russia on drug charges has been moved to a remote prison with poor conditions, her family said Tuesday.

Naama Issachar’s family and lawyers were not informed of the move, which occurred Friday, the family wrote in a Facebook post.

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She was 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 tough conditions.

The family said the lawyer was told Issachar would be moved to another prison next week, but it was not clear where.

“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,”

“This is an unpleasant and very difficult situation. I don’t know what to do because now there is no one to talk to in the coming days,” she told the Walla news site, apparently referring to the holidays.

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 earlier this 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 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.

Source: The Times of Israel


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