Israeli sources confirmed on Friday that Russia recently pressured Israel to release Aleksey Burkov, a Russian hacker who is to be extradited to the U.S., in exchange for the release of an Israeli woman who was detained by Russian security forces on drug-related charges.
>> Election results are in. Subscribe now – save 30%
IT specialist Burkov was arrested in Israel in 2015 for extradition to the United States on charges related to widespread credit card fraud. But Issachar's fate seems to be the last chapter in a behind-the-scenes extradition battle between Moscow and Washington that points to something else than identity theft.
According to the source, the idea of a swap even came up during recent meetings between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Israel eventually declined the proposal, among other reasons, to manage its relationship with the United States, the source said, and explained that the Supreme Court had already approved extradition.
Israeli officials now fear that Naama Issachar, who has been held for the last six months, is at risk of receiving a disproportionately heavy prison sentence.