Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Jerusalem, Jan 23 2020

Israeli-American backpacker Naama Issachar, imprisoned after being convicted on drug charges due to an arrest for possession of marijuana in a Moscow airport, has been officially pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Issachar’s latest appeal was accepted this week by the Moscow Region Pardon Commission who reviewed her request for a pardon. Moscow Governor Andrei Vorobyev signed Naama’s pardon request Tuesday.


The Russian leader’s pardon on Wednesday cleared the way for Issachar to leave the country and come home with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu to Stop in Moscow While Returning to Israel: Will He Bring Naama Issachar Home?

The prime minister was expected to arrive in Moscow for talks with Putin after having joined US President Donald Trump this week for the dramatic release of his Middle East peace plan, Peace to Prosperity.

(For a look at the peace plan, click here.)

“I thank my friend President Putin for granting a pardon to Naama Issachar,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“I am looking forward to our meeting tomorrow, at which we will discuss the Deal of the Century and the latest developments in the region.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who is returning from a visit to Poland and Germany to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, praised the hard work Netanyahu put in to win Issachar’s release, and praised the “wisdom and mercy” showed by his Russian counterpart in agreeing to free her.

“So happy to get the news of President Putin’s decision to pardon Naama and I thank him for the wisdom and mercy of the decision. The Prime Minister’s important work on her release is praiseworthy. Our best wishes to the whole Issachar family,” Rivlin commented.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.