Oregon woman arrives in U.S. after stuck in East Timor for six months

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 05, 2015 1:56 AM

By Courtney Sherwood

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - An Oregon woman arrested on a drug charge while traveling in East Timor arrived home in Portland on Wednesday to a swarm of national and local media after six months of diplomatic negotiations.

Stacey Addison, who said she was never in possession of drugs, was imprisoned for two months and then released without travel documents in December, leaving her unable to leave the Southeast Asian country.

"It feels really good to be back home. Really strange, but really good," said Addison, a 41-year-old veterinarian who was initially detained when a man with whom she shared a cab was arrested on drug charges last September.

Prison conditions were basic, but she was treated well, Addison said at Portland International Airport.

After her release from prison, former East Timorese President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta housed her in guest quarters within his home.

"I did make some friends," Addison said of her time seeking permission to return home to the United States. "And it helped having support behind me back home."

A travel enthusiast whose planned two-year-journey had already taken her from Antarctica through South America before her detention, Addison said she still intends to explore more of the world once she has recovered from her ordeal.

"I don't anticipate anything happening like this again. I hope not," she said with a laugh, as she held the hand of her mother, Bernadette Kero.

Kero enlisted U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate with East Timorese diplomats for the return of Addison's passport.

"I'm glad to have her back," Kero said as she ushered her daughter away from reporters.

(Editing by Curtis Skinner and Nick Macfie)