Report: Putin is considering pardoning Naama Issachar before his visit to Israel

Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting Israel next week for the World Holocaust Forum. Will he bring Naama with him?

Sara Rubenstein ,

Naama Issachar
Naama Issachar
Courtesy of the family

Russian President Vladimir Putin is considering granting a pardon to Naama Issachar, the Israeli backpacker who was sentenced to 7.5 years in jail for a minor drug charge, before his visit to Israel next Thursday, according to a report by a Russian news site on Thursday evening quoted by Ynet.

The Russian report added that the Kremlin is upset that Israel did not agree to the release of Russian hacker Alexi Burkov, who was imprisoned in Israel for four years and then extradited to the United States where he was wanted for cyber credit card charges.

"We wanted this move to be two-way," a government official told a Russian journalist. The report also states that it is unlikely that Issachar will be released "for humanitarian reasons"

Earlier today, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Putin about developments in the region and brought up the issue of Issachar. Netanyahu said later that the conversation strengthed his optimism about chances of a solution being found for Issachar's release. Prior to the phone call, Israeli officials were pessimistic about the chances of Naama's release.

Following Netanyahu's announcement, Yaffa, Naama's mother, said: "The prime minister told me that it is my responsibility to maintain Naama's mental health as long as she is in prison and to be strong and optimistic that as the prime minister, he is obligated to release Naama. I'm currently optimistic and I request with all my heart from the Russian president to act as a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people and as a world power leader, and to release my Naama back to her home in Israel."

Yaffa said in an interview with Ynet that the family does not intend to protest during Putin's visit. "In the first place, I didn't plan to do that and believed Putin would release her before he arrived," Issachar said. "The activists for Naama do want to do something, but no decision has been made. I hope Putin arrives with a promise [to release Naama]. If he doesn't release her, I believe that he will at least come with a message for Israel."