US traveller released after being detained for months in East Timor jail

By , on December 26, 2014


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PORTLAND, Oregon — A U.S. traveller detained for months in East Timor has been released from jail.

Stacey Addison, 41, was arrested in September shortly after crossing the border into the Southeast Asian nation. She was sharing a taxi with a stranger who asked the driver to stop so he could pick up a package. Police stopped the vehicle, determined the package contained methamphetamine and took everybody to the station.

Addison was released from jail after a few days but was ordered to remain in East Timor during the investigation. Then, in October, a prosecutor persuaded a court to rescind Addison’s conditional release and she was taken to a women’s prison despite not being charged with a crime.

“I am overjoyed to learn of Dr. Stacey Addison’s release from prison,” said U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, who has been working to secure the release. “This is wonderful Christmas news.”

Addison’s mother, Bernadette Kero, said in a phone interview she is “tremendously relieved” and will be even more so when her daughter gets her passport returned. For now, Addison is staying at the guest house of former President Jose Ramos-Horta.

Kero said she spoke with Stacey twice on Christmas Eve, and her daughter, though obviously happy, was still in some disbelief over the whole situation.

Addison has been travelling the world since January 2013, starting in Antarctica. Kero said her daughter has always loved to travel and saved her money and sold her home in preparation for the lengthy trip.

In a statement, Merkley gave credit to the ambassadors from each nation. In November, he said the absence of a U.S. ambassador in East Timor was hurting the effort to free Addison and called on Senate leaders to end partisan gridlock and schedule a vote on the long-blocked nomination of Karen Stanton.

Less than a week later, the Senate confirmed Stanton.