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Russia jails U.S.-Israeli on drug charges despite Netanyahu plea

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Russia jails U.S.-Israeli on drug charges despite Netanyahu plea

By Tom Balmforth and Dan Williams

 

2019-10-11T192626Z_1_LYNXMPEF9A1YX_RTROPTP_3_ISRAEL-RUSSIA-USA-PRISONERS-SENTENCE.JPG

Naama Issachar takes a selfie in Israel in this undated picture. Family photo/Handout via REUTERS

 

MOSCOW/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Russian court sentenced a U.S.-Israeli woman to seven and a half years in jail for drug offences on Friday, a ruling Israel condemned as disproportionate and which her family said Moscow had linked to the fate of a Russian citizen detained in Israel.

 

Naama Issachar, 25, was arrested in April while in transit in a Moscow airport, en route from India to Israel, and accused of carrying 9 grams of cannabis, her family said. Russian authorities charged her with drug smuggling.

 

On Thursday, Russia's RT news channel suggested Issachar could be traded for Alexei Burkov, a Russian detained while visiting Israel in 2015. Israeli officials say the United States wants to extradite Burkov for suspected cyber crimes.

 

The RT report cited Burkov's family as calling for the exchange. It said Burkov denied U.S. allegations against him.

 

Minutes before Friday's sentencing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out any swap of Issachar for Burkov.

 

"Israeli justice officials have made unequivocally clear that there is no possibility of preventing Burkov's extradition after Israel's Supreme Court ruled him extraditable," a statement by Netanyahu's office said. It did not elaborate on whether such a swap had been formally proposed.

 

The statement said Netanyahu had twice discussed Issachar's case with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Israel would "continue to exert every effort to free (her) and return her to her family".

 

U.S. officials had no immediate comment on either case.

 

Israel's Foreign Ministry said the ruling was "heavy" and "disproportionate" given the circumstances of Issachar's arrest - a reference to her having not intended to enter Russia with drugs.

 

Issachar's uncle, Israel Cohen, described his niece as "a hostage, abducted in order to bargain for a Russian hacker".

 

"As a mere (cannabis) possessor she was not in his (Burkov's) league, so they (Russian authorities) shifted to charges of smuggling and trafficking in order to raise her value," Cohen told Reuters.

 

Asked to respond to the allegation, a spokesman for Russia's embassy in Israel said the Foreign Ministry in Moscow does not interfere in Russian judicial affairs. According to the Moscow Times newspaper, Russian authorities consider possession of more than 6 grams of cannabis a criminal offence.

 

(Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Nick Macfie)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-10-12

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This is what a bully state will do in orde to get what they want, you will let go a russian arch criminal credit card hacker wanted in the US and Russia or will hold for ransom a young woman tourist in jail for 7.5 years on a platery amount of grass until you will...

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Lucky she wasnt in Indonesia drug penalties are nasty there. Not to mention the man in charge of the Philippines  who uses the police force to execute users and sellers.

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Funny that every westerner locked up in Iran, Russia or China is not really guilty of anything and are usually treated inhumanely according to the western press. Does no westerner ever spy, traffic drugs or commit other crimes in these places....

Meanwhile US are extraditing half the world (ok a bit of an  exaggeration! )

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Hard  to have sympathy when Bibii has millions of Arabs locked up in the occupied territories. Then there are the Americans with the highest incarceration rate in the world. 

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46 minutes ago, pegman said:

Hard  to have sympathy when Bibii has millions of Arabs locked up in the occupied territories. Then there are the Americans with the highest incarceration rate in the world. 

Bless your dear heart for your compassion towards this young woman caught with a tiny bit of herb. Most definitely this random person represents everything horrible about Israel and the USA and to be totally fair, nothing about those countries that is good. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. 

 

(BTW -- living in the west bank for example isn't really the same thing as being locked up in a prison cell but heck, if you can demonize Israel with dishonest gross exaggeration, why not go for it?)

Edited by Jingthing

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