PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Secretary of State John Kerry said there is “no legitimate explanation” for how or why Portland veterinarian Stacey Addison remains held in East Timor.
The 41-year-old who was originally arrested in September and then re-arrested a month later was released from an East Timor prison on Christmas Day 2014, but remains unable to leave the country.
On a trip around the world, Addison traveled from Indonesia to East Timor to renew her visa. While traveling in a hired car Sept. 5, the driver stopped to pick up another passenger. That passenger was being followed by the police, who then stopped the car and arrested everyone inside.
She was jailed for five days but then released. However, East Timor officials yanked her passport and she was unable to leave the country. She was re-arrested Oct. 28 during a court appearance to get a copy of her denied appeal about her conditional release.
She remained imprisoned until Christmas Day. She remains at the guesthouse of former East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta.
US State Department
At an Appropriations Subcommittee meeting in the US Senate on Tuesday, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley brought up the Stacey Addison case to Kerry.
Merkley said, “…Now I wanted to praise the work of our folks in the embassies around the world. We were able at the end of last year to fill a number of the ambassadorships that had been vacant. That’s certainly positive in terms of our relationships. And I wanted to mention that I appreciated particularly that we confirm Karen Ston in East Timor.
There was a challenge involving a citizen from Oregon who is being held in that country. And she has done a wonderful job of helping to draw attention to it. And I’ll continue to work with her and the State Department, hopefully, to get her back home. Her name is Stacey Addison. …”
Kerry, who said he is familiar with her case, said he’s been in touch with Timorese officials.
“I want you to know that embassy officers have been communicating with the host government officials. On November 7th, last November 7th, we had a meeting with the Timorese ambassador, and we’re trying to get the released passport, and hopefully, we can secure her release.
“There really is — I mean, I’m familiar with the case — no legitimate explanation for how she has been detained and kept most recently, so we’re going to keep working on that.”
Her mother, Bernadette Kero, continues to spearhead efforts to keep Addison’s case in the public eye and in front of US officials. A change.org petition to free Addison has more than 132,000 supporters as of Feb. 25.
Kero wrote on the Help Stacey Facebook page she’s been able to email and Skype with her daughter, but there is no real movement in the effort to get her passport returned. However, she said, Addison is staying busy volunteering by teaching English
A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help with expenses in the effort.
Kero told KOIN 6 News she was happy Merkley mentioned Stacey Addison’s case to Kerry.
Still, she described this whole ordeal as surreal.
“She was in prison for two months and then when she was released we were so confident that, OK, it’s over, they’re going to release her passport,” Kero said. “It’s still going on, so it’s very surreal.”
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.