Naama Issachar, an American-born dual citizen of the US and Israel, was arrested and jailed in Russia back in April after Moscow airport police discovered approximately 9.2 grams of marijuana wrapped in plastic and stashed in the toiletries bag of her luggage.
Issachar, who had been backpacking through India for three months and was catching a connecting flight back to Israel at the time of her arrest, appeared in court on Wednesday and admitted to carrying the weed, but also argued via her attorney that the charge of smuggling is excessive, as Issachar had no intention of crossing the border checkpoint to enter Russia.
“If the court finds her guilty of smuggling it will set a dangerous precedent,” the 25-year-old’s attorney said, reported the Times of Israel. According to the defense team, Issachar should only receive a possession charge and a sentence that acknowledges time served.
Russian prosecutors, however, called for the woman to be sentenced to eight years behind bars and asserted that the smuggling charge is applicable once one enters Russian airspace.
While Issachar now appears to take responsibility for the marijuana, her alleged knowledge of possession was contested by a family member prior to the trial.
"She slept in so many hostels and guest houses and was around so many different people,” Issachar’s sister, Liad Gold, told Fox News back in August. “Her mistake was that she didn’t properly clean out her bag. But when they found it her mouth dropped open. She had no idea it was there."
Following the October 9 trial, Yaffa Issachar, her mother, asserted to Haaretz that her daughter made a mistake and “didn’t know the law in Russia.” While marijuana is partially decriminalized in Israel, it is not a legal substance there.
“WeWantNaama” and “LettersToNaama” campaigns for the 25-year-old’s release were launched on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in the past few months, calling for the United States and Israel to intervene in the trial. One Instagram post in particular makes a plea to the Israeli government by highlighting Issachar’s three years of service in the Israel Defense Forces.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry, along with the country’s consulate in Moscow, have noted they avoid “getting involved in the investigation and trial proceedings of its citizens in foreign countries,” and that the “Russians made it clear that it is a case of a criminal offense that requires a trial in accordance with Russian law,” according to a statement provided to the Times of Israel.