Naama Issachar, a 25 year old dual US-Israeli citizen, is alleged to have flown with 0.33 ounces of marijuana in her checked luggage as she flew from India to Israel via Moscow.
She took an Aeroflot flight via Moscow as it was $200 cheaper than other options.
A tourist with that amount of cannabis in Russia would normally get a month’s detention. She was sentenced to 7.5 years in Russian prison.
There’s little doubt that she’s a political pawn as her stash was clearly for personal use and Russia tried her as a distributor. That makes zero sense given the quantity of marijuana and that it was in her checked luggage during a connection in Moscow to get back home.
She says that she was forced into an admission of guilt, but I’m not going to speculate about whether this was or wasn’t her marijuana and I’m certainly not here to excuse her actions.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but you should never, ever fly with drugs. And you should never travel with anything that you haven’t personally inspected. There are countries that will execute people flying with drugs!
In this case Russia wanted to extract concessions from Israel, so they found a scapegoat and tried Naama on trumped up charges. Russia isn’t even trying to hide that fact as they offered to trade her for Alexei Burkov. Israel refused to trade and Mr. Burkov was extradited to the US.
I don’t normally advocate for boycotts as it’s a slippery slope. My typical attitude is live and let live and assume that people will make their own decisions. I might personally avoid some airlines or companies, but I’m not going to impose my personal views on someone else.
But this case is egregious.
Aeroflot is Russia’s flag carrier and is owned by the Russian government. The only way to voice our displeasure is with our wallets.
I’m aware that I’m opening myself to criticism here. What exactly did Aeroflot do wrong, other than flying Naama, connecting through Russia, and being owned by the Russian government? Surely other countries have committed perversions of justice as well? Other airlines have done boycott worthy things as well. And isn’t she foolish for traveling with drugs, even if it was a small amount?
That’s all fair criticism, but I feel the need to stand up for Naama. Her crimes simply don’t merit spending the next 7 years in a Russian prison.
I won’t fly Aeroflot until Naama is released from prison and I hope you’ll do the same.
Join me in taking a stand against this abuse of power by choosing another airline when you fly. And write to your representatives to push for justice for Naama Issachar.
Where do you draw the line when it comes to a boycott?