In January 2013, Dr. Stacey Addison of Portland, Ore., embarked on a trip around the world. Her starting point was Antarctica.
Addison, a veterinarian, had made all the necessary plans and had sold her house so she would have enough money for the trip.
In September of 2014, she shared a taxi with a stranger. That decision led to months of incarceration in the tiny nation of East Timor.
The Associated Press reports: Addison was arrested in September shortly after crossing the border into the Southeast Asian nation. She was sharing a taxi with a stranger who had asked the driver to stop the car so he could pick up a package. Police stopped the vehicle, determined the package contained methamphetamine and took everybody to the station.
After a few days Addison, 41, was released from jail, but was ordered to stay in the country during the investigation. In October, even though she hadn’t been charged with a crime, she was taken to a women’s prison and held there until her release on Thursday.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who has been working on Addison’s release, said, “This is wonderful Christmas news.”
In a statement, he credited ambassadors from the U.S. and East Timor for helping Addison regain her freedom.
A State Department spokesperson said Thursday that Addison’s release is welcome news and embassy officials will continue to provide assistance.
Addison’s mother, Bernadette Kero of Klamath Falls, Ore., said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that she is “tremendously relieved,” and will be even more so when her daughter has her passport returned.
For now, Addison is staying at the guest house of former East Timor president Jose Ramos-Horta.
In a Thursday news conference with reporters in East Timor, Addison said once she gets her passport she will “go home.”
“I don’t think my mom would ever forgive me if I didn’t come home immediately and stay for a while,” she said.