Naama Issachar
Naama IssacharCourtesy of the family

A court in Russia on Friday sentenced Naama Issachar, the Israeli who was arrested in Russia after being caught with nine grams of cannabis while exchanging flights in Moscow, to 7.5 years in prison.

At the time of her arrest, she was on her way back to Israel from India, and had stopped in Moscow to catch her connecting flight.

The Foreign Ministry responded to the verdict, saying, "This is a disproportionately heavy punishment for a young Israeli woman with no criminal record who was on a connecting flight in Moscow on her way to Israel. Unfortunately, the Russian authorities have so far failed to respond to our pleadings to deal with the incident in congruence with her arrest."

The Issachar family said, "We are shocked that Russia has decided to kidnap Naama and hold her hostage. She is not a criminal. Her place is not in Russian prison. We turn to the Israeli Prime Minister for help - Naama will not hold up in Russian prison. Please get her out of there."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement after the sentencing that Netanyahu “has personally acted regarding Naama Issachar in recent weeks. The Prime Minister discussed this issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his 12 September visit to Sochi and raised the issue again in their telephone conversation earlier this week.”

“Also, the authorities in Israel have been active regarding Issachar throughout her detention. Israel has delivered a clear message: The punishment being demanded by the Russian prosecutor is disproportionate and does not fit the nature of the offense being attributed to Issachar,” the statement added.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu requested a commuting of the sentence and an easing of the terms of Naama's detention. To our regret, the Russian prosecution has not yet accepted to these requests,” said the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Judicial authorities in Israel have made it unequivocally clear that there is no possibility of preventing the extradition of [hacker Alexei] Burkov following the Supreme Court ruling that he is subject to extradition.”

“Following the Sochi meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Putin, the Prime Minister telephoned Naama's mother and updated her on the discussion.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu and the State of Israel will continue to make every effort with the Russian authorities in order to bring about Naama Issachar's release and return her to her family.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu deeply appreciates President Putin's willingness to devote time to the issue and hopes that effort will bear fruit,” the statement concluded.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)