Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday pardoned an Israeli-US woman who was earlier sentenced by a Russian court to seven-and-a-half years in jail for drug trafficking, according to Kremlin.
Putin’s pardon came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected in Moscow where he is due to meet the Russian leader.
Naama Issachar, 26, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in April 2019 as she travelled from India to Israel. Russian authorities said they found nine grammes (three ounces) of cannabis in her checked luggage.
PM Netanyahu thanked his “friend” Putin for the decision to pardon Issachar.
President Reuven Rivlin also expressed his gratitude to the Russian leader “for the wisdom and mercy of the decision”.
The Israeli government was willing to relinquish ownership of a complex in Jerusalem – symbolic to the Russian Orthodox Church – as a goodwill gesture ahead of Issachar’s release, according to the Israeli media.
Issachar was returning from a trip to India when she was detained.
Her case gained widespread attention in Israel, with local media accusing Moscow of using it to pressure Israel over a jailed Russian hacker, whose extradition was requested by both the US and Russian governments, the BBC reported.
(With inputs from agency)