Netanyahu also said he and Putin discussed Iran and Syria with Putin, and the two wished each other happy holidays.

Naama Issachar (photo credit: COURTESY/MAARIV)
Naama Issachar (photo credit: COURTESY/MAARIV)


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to free Israeli-American Naama Yissachar from a Russian prison, in a phone call on Thursday evening.

“I asked the president once again to bring about Naama Yissachar’s release,” Netanyahu wrote on twitter after the call.

Yissachar was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for drug smuggling, after less than 10 grams of cannabis was found in her luggage while she was on a stopover in Moscow en route from India to Israel. Yissachar says that she did not put the drugs in her suitcase. A Moscow court rejected her appeal last week.

Netanyahu also said he and Putin discussed Iran and Syria with Putin, and the two wished each other happy holidays.

The Kremlin said the call was an Israeli initiative, and the leaders talked about “topics on the regional agenda as well as bilateral relations in the framework of the Russian President’s visit to Israel planned for January 2020.”

Putin plans to attend the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem on January 23, along with other world leaders, and diplomatic sources have said Netanyahu is pushing for Yissachar to be brought home by then.

Neither the Prime Minister’s Office statement nor Netanyahu’s tweet mentioned Putin’s response to the request to free Yissachar, and the Kremlin’s statement about the call did not mention her at all.

The call came the day after Netanyahu called Yissachar’s sentence “absurd” in an interview with Army Radio, and pointed out that Putin can pardon prisoners.

“I hope he will use this right. It is my responsibility as prime minister of Israel to bring Naama and I will do it. I have a unique relationship with Putin,” Netanyahu said.

Yissachar’s mother Yaffa Yissachar thanked the prime minister soon after the Netanyahu-Putin call.

She said that after several days of insisting she be allowed to light a Hannukiah, Rabbi Shaul Deutch, a Chabad emissary in Russia, was able to bring her one, as well as a jelly donut.

“I ask Mr. Prime Minister, do everything so your friend President Putin will allow Naama to light a candle as a free person in Israel,” she stated.

Yissachar’s legal team began preparing an appeal to the European Court for Human Rights and another appeal in Russian courts, Ma’ariv reported on Wednesday.

On Wednesday night, Yissachar’s mother Yaffa Yissachar, participated in a Hanukkah event hosted by the Israeli embassy in Moscow, and said upon lighting the candles that she is “waiting for our own little miracle.”

As reported by The Jerusalem Post