Here you can read more about Naama’s story.
It’s hard to know precisely. There is a factor of coincidence here. Chances are Naama fell into their hands just in time when they needed someone like her to act as a bargaining chip. By accident it was Naama. Perhaps the fact that she also has American citizenship has contributed to the matter. But it could have been any of us. And that’s exactly what’s scary about this story. Any of us could be Naama.
Even if we assume that the drug found in Na’ama is hers (although she denies a connection to this drug), it should still be remembered that it was a tiny amount and that Na’ama had no way to get to her luggage as she was between flights. The sentence she should have received was a maximum of one month of detention and a fine. This is exactly how it happened to other tourists caught on the same offence at that time. Naama was charged with drug trafficking, the sentence of which is up to ten years in prison. All her claims that she could not trade drugs because she did not try to enter Russia at all fell on deaf ears. There is no explanation for the matter other than political imprisonment.
We think that going to Russia, even for transit, is an unnecessary risk. The Russians have no problem harassing people for political reasons. Naama’s case is extreme. But you can see that they also harassed ordinary passengers. The harassment included hours of delays at the airport, unpleasant investigations, a cell phone inspection, a demand to sign documents in Russian, taking fingerprints and more. Russian authorities didn’t harm passengers coming through the Russian airline Aeroflot. They only harassed the passengers who arrived on EL-AL.
Naama is currently in IK-1 prison located in New Grishino, a town located about 70 km to the north of Moscow. This prison is a temporary detention center for women. Naama is there in the cell with 3 other roommates. It is unclear if and when she will be sent to another prison. The fear is that she will be sent to a distant place, may even be Siberia, which would make it very difficult to contact her.
You can read about Naama’s conditions in prison here.
In the photo, Yaffe brings supplies to Naama in prison 1. Photo: Maya Arazi
Naama is entitled to visits twice a month. Unlike other prisoners, Naama is prevented from having phone calls. She can receive letters through the prison letter delivery system. The letters are censored. Occasionally, Naama meets with her lawyers. Chabad representative, Rabbi Shieye Deitch also gets permission to visit Naama on a religious basis.
The best way to send letters to Naama is to write in English and send the following e-mail: name firstname.lastname@example.org
The letters arrive at Budge, Naama’s mother, after self-censorship.
It is forbidden to write against Russia, and of course not to encourage escape or other illegal things. It is permissible and desirable to encourage and write happy things to elevate Naama’s mood.
Naama had her first trial at the Kimkey County Local Court. She was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison. Naama appealed to the district court. At the end of the appeal, which lasted for about 7 hours before 3 judges, the motion was rejected.
There are currently two levels left. District Superior Court and General Superior Court. Naama stated that she wanted to continue trying all the legal options, even if their chances of success were low. Naama believes that giving up the right of appeal is like a confession, something she does not agree with.
At first, the state and its representatives followed what was going on, but did not interfere, leaving the family to fight alone. Since the end of the first trial, the state has certainly been helping and supporting the family. This is reflected in the work of Israeli representatives in Moscow, and in particular the consul Yaffe Olivicki. Likewise, Israeli heads of state, Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuben Rivlin, and other public figures are engaging and trying to help. However, it is vital that the pressure on decision-makers in Israel continues all the time.
The activity for Naama is carried out entirely by volunteering. Starting with hanging signs on the streets, through demonstrations and networking. The help needed is active participation as well as financial support.
You can help financially, by contributing financially to the fight, as well as registering on this page as a supporter and participating in activities.
The “Naama Release Headquarters” is made of family, friends and volunteers, whose goal is to get Naama out of the awful story she is in, and bring her back to Israel as soon as possible.