We call upon President Vladimir Putin to pardon 26-year-old Naama Issachar, an American Israeli, who was given a sentence of seven-and-a-half-years in prison by a Russian court for allegedly smuggling drugs. The facts surrounding this case do not add up. She was in transit last April at Moscow International Airport from India to Israel when she was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in her checked-in luggage. Though arrested for possession she was subsequently charged with smuggling. However, since she was not entering Russia, she could not have been attempting to smuggle drugs into that country. Furthermore, the sentence is disproportionate to the crime for which she was actually arrested.
All these factors give the appearance that the severity of the sentence is politically motivated as part of a scheme by Moscow to gain the release of as a Russian national being held in Israel for extradition to the United States on charges of alleged hacking and credit card fraud. We demand that Naama not be used as a bargaining chip by the Government of the Russian Federation.
There are reports that Naama’s conditions in prison are deteriorating, that she is being denied access to letters and other privileges normally afforded to other prisoners. Her family has expressed concern for her health and safety.
Naama’s treatment by Russian authorities raises fears that other international travelers transiting through Moscow could similarly be arbitrarily arrested and held in this manner. We therefore call for people to avoid travel to or through Russia until Naama is released.
Russia: #FreeNaama now!