American tourist leaves E Timor after 6-month ordeal

2015-03-09 12:52

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Dili, East Timor - An American tourist has returned to the United States after six months trapped in East Timor over the discovery of drugs in a taxi that she was sharing.

Stacey Addison arrived back in Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday, embracing her mother tightly during an emotional reunion at the city's airport, TV reports showed.

"It's a great feeling, it's a relief to finally be back home, be out of there," she told a local station, adding her experience in East Timor, a tiny half-island nation bordering Indonesia, had been an "emotional rollercoaster".

A Facebook group set up to advocate for her release carried a celebratory message on Tuesday announcing that she had left East Timor: "IT'S FINALLY HAPPENED! STACEY IS ON HER WAY HOME!!!!"

Addison was arrested on 5 September after methamphetamine was found in the shared taxi that was en route to the capital Dili, but denied any wrongdoing.

Tough punishments

The veterinarian, who had just crossed from Indonesia when she was arrested, wrote on Facebook that another passenger - who was a stranger - picked up a package containing the drugs, and police later detained everyone in the car.

She was initially released from jail after several days but was later re-arrested, although no charges were laid against her.

Addison was released again in December, but East Timor authorities hung on to her passport while they continued to investigate her case.

Her lawyer had warned that the probe could take two years but last week the East Timor government announced that prosecutors had decided not to pursue her case and "Ms. Addison is now free to leave".

The state department had supported Addison and pressed for her release.

East Timor, a poor half-island nation that was occupied by Indonesia for over two decades, has tough punishments for drugs cases but does not impose the death penalty like some other countries in the region.

Read more on:    indonesia  |  us  |  narcotics

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