An American-born Israel citizen is caught in the middle of a conflict with Russia all because she was found with nine grams of marijuana during a layover at Moscow Airport in April.
Naama Issacher, who was born in New Jersey and is 26 years old, received a 7.5 year sentence on October 11 on a trumped-up smuggling charge. She's being held in a prison 50 miles outside of Moscow.
Russia is using Issacher as a pawn to get Israel to release Alexei Burkov, a hacker arrested at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv in 2015 who's scheduled to be extradicted to the U.S. where he was arrested in Virgina for financial cyber crimes, also in 2015.
Issacher's family moved to Israel when she was in high school. Naama was returning from a trip to India to Israel on a flight that had a stop in Moscow. That was her big mistake. When Russian officials decided to negotiate an exchange for Burkov, the charge was changed from possession to smuggling.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone to bat for Issacher in conversations with Russian president Vladimir Putin, but to no avail so far. Netanyahu's office has stated that “there is no possibility of preventing the extradition of Burkov.”
In that the case, Issacher will remain imprisoned for the forseeable future, all because of a small amount of pot - unless the Trump administration steps in and negotiates her release with the Russain authorities.