Israeli woman jailed in Russia for seven years over drug offenses said during her appeal hearing on Thursday that she was "forced" to sign documents in the Russian language without knowing what they were.
The 26-year-old Naama Issachar was arrested in April while in transit in a Moscow airport, en route from India to Israel, and accused of carrying 9.5 grams of cannabis. Russian authorities charged her with drug smuggling. She was sentenced by a court in Moscow last October.
The appeal hearing kicked-off with the Israeli confronting the judge by denying she has admitted to the charges against her.
Issachar, who was sitting in a glass cell inside the courtroom, said when’d been asked to sign her confession there was no interpreters and speculated the final confession might even have been fabricated.
The judge said the Israeli yoga instructor partially admitted to illegal possession of drugs and drug smuggling.
This prompted Naama to once again say she has never admitted to charges of drug possession and was not aware of the marijuana that was in her bag at all. “It’s very simple, I didn't buy the marijuana, I didn't receive it from anyone and I didn't put it in my bag,” said Issachar during her hearing.
Her defense team reiterated she had no intention of illegally smuggling the drugs during her journey.
The defense also claimed the translators during Naama’s initial interrogation had poor knowledge of English and couldn’t explain to her what she was being accused of, contributing to the alleged self-incrimination.
“When they made me sign the document that was written in Russian without understanding what was in it, I hand wrote [on the document] that I did not understand Russian,” she said.
Issachar’s team, therefore, asked the court to overturn the sentence as her right to have a fair trial had been violated. Naama then nodded in her cell, indicating she fully supports the defense's claims.
First published: 12:40 , 12.19.19