Courtney Sherwood – An Oregon woman arrested on a drug charge while traveling in East Timor last September and who has maintained her innocence, has been allowed to leave the country after six months of diplomatic negotiations, US Senator Ron Wyden said on Tuesday.
Stacey Addison, a 41-year-old veterinarian who was initially detained when a man with whom she shared a cab was arrested on drug charges, left East Timor on Monday night and is expected to arrive back home in Portland on Wednesday, Wyden's office said.
Addison, who supporters say was never in possession of drugs, was held in prison for two months and then conditionally released in December without her travel documents, leaving her unable to leave the Southeast Asian country.
Former East Timorese President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta took up her cause, and housed her in guest quarters within his home as she sought permission to return home to the United States.
Last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry said last month that there was "no legitimate explanation for how she has been detained and kept," and noted that diplomats had been lobbying for return of Addison's passport for months.
Senator Jeff Merkley praised those negotiation efforts on Monday after her passport was returned: "This is terrific news for Stacey, for her family and for all the Oregonians who have followed Stacey's story and helped her from afar," Merkley said.
Addison's mother, Bernadette Kero, has said her daughter had been in East Timor on the final six-month leg of a two-year round-the-world tour, a trip she had saved for two years and sold her house to finance.
Kero did not respond to a call seeking comment on Tuesday on her daughter's impending return, but Addison's supporters posted thanks on the Help Stacey Facebook page they created to share news about her plight.
"She will arrive back in Oregon on Wednesday, six months to the day that her ordeal began, where she can get a complete medical check-up and begin to heal among family and friends," supporters said in a statement posted to Facebook on Tuesday.
[Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh.]