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Foreign minister credits PM’s close ties with Putin for freeing backpacker

Israeli officials celebrate release of Naama Isaachar, credit close ties with Kremlin, though official says move made as goodwill gesture to US, not Israel.

Putin signed the pardon just as Netanyahu is scheduled to take off for Moscow Wednesday.

Netanyahu thanked his “friend, President Putin, for granting Naama Issachar a pardon. I look forward to our meeting tomorrow, in which we’ll discuss the Deal of the Century and other regional developments.”

A copy of the pardon order for Naama Issachar declares that she is free effective immediately, though most speculate she’ll hang out in Moscow until getting a ride home with Netanyahu (and his press gaggle) on Thursday.

In a statement, Foreign Minister Israel Katz praises the decision to free her and thanks Netanyahu “for his determined efforts for the return of Naama by using his close ties with Russian President Putin and good bilateral ties.”

Russian President Vladmir Putin signed on Wednesday the pardon request of a young Israeli-American woman imprisoned in Russia for 7.5 years over drug charges, the Kremlin said in a statement.