Netanyahu hopeful for US-Israeli’s release after Putin call
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday he was optimistic an Israeli-American woman jailed in Russia would be released, after a phone call with President Vladimir Putin.
The case of Naama Issachar, who was convicted on drug charges, has raised diplomatic tensions between Russia and Israel ahead of a visit to Jerusalem by Putin.
Netanyahu’s office said he discussed the case of Issachar, who lost her appeal last month against a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence.
“The conversation was warm and to the point and strengthened the prime minister’s optimism that the issue of the release of Naama Issachar is advancing towards a solution,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
A high-profile campaign has been waged in Israel for the release of Issachar, who was caught with nine grammes of cannabis in her checked luggage while transiting from India to Israel at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in April.
Netanyahu, who is facing an election on March 2, sent a letter to Issachar on Monday in which he vowed not to “abandon” her.
His phone call to Putin comes ahead of the Russian president’s visit to Jerusalem next week for events marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz death camp.
The Kremlin said the two discussed a number of issues related to bilateral cooperation in their phone call, but did not mention the Issachar case.
Issachar’s mother said Netanyahu had told her to be “strong and optimistic” as he was working towards her daughter’s release.
In a statement, she said: “I am now optimistic and I ask the Russian president with all my heart to act as a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people, and as the leader of a world power, to return my Naama home to Israel.”