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Netanyahu to bring U.S.-Israeli woman pardoned by Putin back to Israel

Moscow — Russia's prison service said Thursday that a U.S.-Israeli woman jailed for drug trafficking had been freed from prison after President Vladimir Putin pardoned her. She was to travel back home to Israel with Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday after he met with Putin to discuss the new Middle East peace initiative announced this week by President Donald Trump.

"Due to the presidential decree on pardoning, Naama Issachar has been freed from prison," the service said in a statement about the 26 year old.

A monument to Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin is seen in front of a penal colony, where Naama Issachar serves her sentence, in Moscow region
A monument to Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin is seen in front of a Moscow-region penal colony where Naama Issachar, a U.S.-Israeli woman jailed on drug charges, was serving her sentence before being released on January 30, 2020. TATYANA MAKEYEVA / REUTERS

Issachar, a New Jersey native, was arrested in April during a stopover at a Moscow airport after police said they found nine grams of cannabis in her bags, the Reuters news agency said. She was serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence.

Her release came ahead of Putin's talks with Netanyahu on Thursday.

Netanyahu told Putin as they sat down in the Kremlin that he wanted to discuss Mr. Trump's peace plan and hear the Russian leader's opinion of it.

"You are the first leader I am speaking with after my visit in Washington for Trump's Deal of the Century," he said. "I think there is a new opportunity here, maybe even unique opportunity, and I'd like to discuss it with you and hear your insights."

Netanyahu welcomed the news of Issachar's release, telling Putin: "I would like to thank you on behalf of all the people of Israel for granting a pardon to Naama Issachar... We are all touched by this."

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