Naama Issachar, 26, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in a Russian prison after 9.5 grams of cannabis were found in her luggage during a stopover in Moscow in 2019.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov said on Tuesday that a prisoner exchange deal for an Israeli-American woman being held in Russia on drug charges is not being considered.
“As far as I know, an exchange option is not being looked at,” he told Russia’s Tass news agency.
The 26-year-old was arrested by Russian authorities after 10 grams of cannabis were found in her luggage during a layover in Moscow in April. She was sentenced to seven and a half years for drug trafficking.
It is widely believed the heavy sentence may have been designed to pressure Israel into not extraditing a Russian cyber-criminal to the United States.
Ivanov’s comments come days after Israel released two Syrian prisoners in what analysts say was a goodwill gesture to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Sunday, Issachar received a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who promised to do everything in his power to secure her release. “Our people have always been characterized by a heritage of mutual guarantee – we do not abandon anyone to his fate, and so it is in your case. The State of Israel and I are making constant efforts for your release,” he wrote.
The letter was sent just a week before President Putin is slated to travel to Israel, with many hoping for a diplomatic breakthrough during the visit.