Israeli-American woman gets 7 1/2 years in Russian prison for marijuana smuggling


(JTA) — Russia has sentenced an Israeli-American woman to 7 1/2 years in prison following her conviction for smuggling marijuana into the country.

A Moscow court handed down the sentence to Naama Issachar, a 25-year-old Israeli army veteran, on Friday, a court spokeswoman told Reuters.

Russia had tried exchanging Issachar for Aleksey Burkov, a Russian hacker held in Israel set to be extradited to the United States, according to Haaretz.

Issachar had been detained since April in Russia after 9 grams of marijuana were found in her luggage. She denies the marijuana was hers. Nine grams is less than a third of an ounce.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry criticized the sentence as “disproportionate,” Haaretz reported.

Her initial charge of possession of cannabis, which entails a fine and a month of detention, was subsequently changed to narcotics smuggling, which carries a prison term of three to 10 years.

Issachar’s family had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has cultivated a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, to help her.

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