Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Putin pardons drug smuggler

Putin pardons drug smuggler

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Putin (right) met with met Issachar’s mother Yaffa Issachar during a visit to Jerusalem. AFP

Putin pardons drug smuggler

Russia's prison service said on Thursday that a US-Israeli woman jailed for drug trafficking has been freed from prison after President Vladimir Putin pardoned her.

Putin pardoned Naama Issachar on Wednesday evening ahead of a Thursday visit to Moscow by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Due to the presidential decree on pardoning, Naama Issachar has been freed from prison,” the prison service said in a statement.

Issachar, 26, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in April last year while she was in the transit zone en route from India to Israel.

Russian authorities said they found 9g of cannabis in her checked luggage and she was sentenced in October to seven and a half years in prison.

“Guided by the principles of humanity, I pardon Naama Issachar,” Putin said in a decree cited by the Kremlin.

The young woman’s fate had sparked a wave of sympathy in Israel where Netanyahu had pledged to do everything for her release.

Her mother Yaffa Issachar told Israeli media in Russia that her daughter was “out, in a car”.

“Finally, thank God, thanks to everyone,” she was quoted as saying.

The Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported that the freed woman would return to Israel on Thursday in Netanyahu’s plane.

Last month, Issachar lost an appeal against her sentence, which Netanyahu has described as disproportionate.

‘Mercy and compassion’

During the appeal hearing, Issachar had proclaimed her innocence, denouncing the charges against her as absurd.

She was imprisoned in a penal colony in the Moscow region. After initially refusing to appeal to Putin, on Sunday she signed a request to him for a pardon.

When travelling to Israel last week for commemorations for the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz 75 years ago, Putin appeared before the cameras with Issachar’s mother and Netanyahu.

The Israeli foreign ministry had called the verdict “harsh and disproportionate” and President Reuven Rivlin had appealed to Putin’s “mercy and compassion” when asking him to intervene in the case.

Netanyahu on Thursday was to discuss US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan with Putin.

Netanyahu, who has highlighted his personal bond with Trump, stood alongside him at the White House when the peace plan was announced on Tuesday and called it a victory for Israel.

It remains to be seen how much Issachar’s release and Netanyahu’s visit to Washington boost his re-election chances.

Analysts said the details of Trump’s plan could offer political benefits to Netanyahu, delighting rightwing voters with calls for the annexation of West Bank settlements and possibly appeasing some on the left with nominal support for a Palestinian state.

Russia said it would study Trump’s plan and called on Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate directly to find a “mutually acceptable compromise”.


  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42