Oregon woman's U.S. return stalled after East Timor prison release

By Courtney Sherwood

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - An Oregon woman arrested while traveling in East Timor and released from prison there on Christmas Day has yet to regain her U.S. passport and is not expected to be able to return home before the new year, her mother said on Monday.

Dr. Stacey Addison, 41, a veterinarian from Portland, was initially detained when a man with whom she was sharing a cab ride in the East Timorese countryside was arrested on drug charges in September.

Released five days later without her passport, she was re-arrested in late October when she appeared for a court hearing to retrieve her travel documents and was sent off to prison in Dili, the capital of the Southeast Asian country also known as Timor-Leste.

After nearly two months of quiet diplomacy by U.S. officials, Addison was freed from prison last week, but her passport was again withheld, and she has been unable to leave the country.

In the meantime, she has been staying as a guest at the home of former East Timorese President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta.

Her mother, Bernadette Kero, 64, said from her home in Klamath Falls, Oregon, that her daughter has been seeking medical treatment for gastrointestinal problems and infections from insect bites, but is otherwise in good condition.

Kero told Reuters she received an email message on Monday from Addison's East Timorese lawyer saying he intends to file a petition to have her passport returned. But because the courts in East Timor are closed until the new year, nothing is expected to happen before Jan. 1, she said.

"I'm happy she is out of prison and comfortable, but ... we're looking at more waiting. That's frustrating," Kero said. "We don't know if it will be a week, two weeks, a month. We don't know anything about the time frame, but her lawyer is hoping it will be sometime in January."

Kero said her daughter was 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 afford.

The U.S. embassy has been in frequent contact with Addison and with her family in the United States, Kero said.

Addison herself has said she plans to return home as soon as she regains her passport.

(Reporting by Courtney Sherwood in Portland, Ore., Writing by Steve Gorman)

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