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October 30, 2019 12:24 pm

Mother of Israeli-American Woman Imprisoned in Russia: ‘They’re Trying to Break Her’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Naama Issachar. Photo: Facebook.

The mother of a 26-year-old Israeli woman imprisoned in Russia on drug charges said in an interview on Wednesday that Russian authorities were “trying to break” her daughter.

Naama Issachar was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for drug smuggling after a small amount of cannabis was found in her possession while she was waiting for a connecting flight in a Moscow airport in April. Her mother Yafa and the Israeli government have been trying to obtain her release ever since.

Speaking to Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, Yafa accused the Russian government of deliberately isolating Naama and preventing Yafa from visiting her.

“They are trying to break her,” she said.

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“They are doing it on purpose,” Yafa charged. “For a week the judge refused to give the authorization” for her to visit, “despite the fact that under the law I am allowed to do so twice. After 40 minutes [the judge] was satisfied and gave the authorization, but the prison didn’t let me enter.”

The Russian judge, she said, had first claimed that Yafa could not visit Naama because officials would not be able to understand what the two were saying. “I said I was ready to speak in English, but they told me there was no translator,” she noted.

Since then there has been no contact with her daughter, “no letters, no telephone connection.”

“It’s frustrating,” said Yafa. “I have to get her out of here. She’s been in prison for seven months for something she didn’t do. It’s haggling between two countries.”

She added that the Israeli consulate had attempted to intervene, but was unsuccessful and recommended she try again next month.

Asked whether she felt the Israeli government was doing enough on her behalf, Yafa said, “I know they’re taking steps, but I’m afraid that it’s too slow. It’s already several months that they’ve been taking steps and I’m begging to take her home. She’s been through enough.”

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