Naama Issachar's appeal rejected by Russian court

The Moscow court deliberated for only 25 minutes in case of Israeli woman who received 7.5 years in prison for 'smuggling' cannabis.

Sara Rubenstein ,

Issachar inside glass enclosure in Russian court
Issachar inside glass enclosure in Russian court
Credit: Kan 11

A Moscow court rejected the appeal of Naama Issachar on Thursday after deliberating for only 25 minutes, according to a Channel 12 News report.

At the appeal, Issachar - speaking from inside a glass enclosure - said that contrary to the court's ruling, she never confessed to smuggling drugs, saying she was unaware she signed a confession since there was no translator present. Naama also told the judges that she didn't purchase the drugs and it must have been planted in her luggage.

"They didn't explain the significance of the incident," she said. "I was never in Russia. I don't speak the language and I don't recognize the laws of the country. In the country, I come from and the countries I've visited, this is not the usual punishment."

"I noted many times that it was not my drugs. They forced me to sign documents in Russian."

"There's proof that I didn't intend to bring drugs into Russia. I didn't go through the passport inspection at all and I had no access to the drugs. I didn't know that was incriminating myself. All the evidence attests to my innocence."

"The conviction will destroy all the good I accumulated in my life for a crime I did not commit," Issachar added. "I request of the court to restore justice, reverse the conviction and order my release from prison."

Issachar's lawyers claimed that she was unaware that there were drugs in her luggage. Furthermore, she could not have planned on smuggling drugs into Russia since she was only in the country for a stopover from India to Israel, adding that she was searched illegally and tricked into signing a confession.

Naama, as well as her mother, Yaffa Issachar and her older sister, Liad Gold, broke down in tears upon hearing that Naama's appeal was rejected. Yaffa responded: "Does it seem like there's justice here? This is Russia. It's not surprising." She then called out to her daughter: "I love you, Naama. Be strong!"

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke to Yaffa Issachar by phone following the court's decision and said: "Despite the disappointment about the court's decision, I won't give up. I'll continue to use any means to return Naama home."

Issachar, 26, was sentenced to seven and a half years of prison in Russia for allegedly smuggling less than 10 grams of cannabis, although she was only in the Russian airport for a connecting flight.

The family issued a statement in response: "We are sorry and angry. Everyone saw the farce that went on as Naama was isolated in a glass booth. Naama should not carry all the interests and disputes between Israel and Russia on her shoulders. We ask the prime minister: fulfill your commitment. Don't allow a situation in which Putin lands in Israel for a state ceremony without returning Naama home."




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