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January 23, 2020 12:08 pm

After Meeting With Putin, Mother of Israeli-American Woman Jailed in Russia Says, ‘I Came Out Smiling’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Yafa Issachar, Sara Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Jan. 23, 2020. Photo; Heidi Levine / Pool via Reuters.

Following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Jerusalem on Thursday, the mother of a young Israeli-American woman jailed in Russia said, “I came out smiling.”

Yafa Issachar, the mother of 26-year-old Naama Issachar, who is serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence in Russia after a negligible amount of cannabis was found in her luggage at a Moscow airport last April, sat down with Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday morning to discuss her daughter’s release.

Putin, who is in Israel for ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, did not announce Naama’s release after the meeting, but did turn to Yafa and say, “Everything will be okay.”

Yafa expressed happiness after the meeting, saying, “I didn’t expect to meet the president of such a great power. We spoke very closely. He promised that he would bring my little girl home. I’m holding on to that statement.”

“There’s some procedures,” she explained. “I think I’ll return to Moscow tomorrow. The lawyer is on his way to Naama right now. I came out smiling. Thank you to everyone who worked behind the scenes.”

“It was a difficult night and I’m happy it’s behind me, and hope [Naama] returns,” said Yafa. “I came out of the meeting reassured. I spoke with President Putin and he listened to me.”

After the meeting, standing alongside Yafa and Putin, Netanyahu said, “We have just concluded an excellent working meeting between President Putin and myself. At its conclusion, President Putin asked to bring in Yafa, Naama Issachar’s mother. This was a very moving meeting. I am very grateful to you for this gesture, my friend the president.”

Later on Thursday, Naama told a television crew at her Russian prison, “I am still here but I believe what he (Putin) said. He said everything will be fine.”

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