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Dream Trip Around the World Becomes a Nightmare for an American Tourist in East Timor

Categories: Timor-Leste, Citizen Media, Human Rights
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Stacey Addison detained in East Timor. Photo: Facebook. Reproduced with permission.

Stacey Addison is from Portland, USA where she worked as a veterinarian for ten years. About 20 months ago, 41 year-old Stacey decided to sell all of her belongings and leave for a round-the-world adventure.

What was meant to be a dream trip that began in January 2013, is now turning into a nightmare. [2] Stacey Addison crossed the border from Indonesia to East Timor, in a shared taxi, in September 2014. Upon arrival in Dili, one of the occupants of the taxi asked to stop at a DHL postal office to collect a parcel. The packet contained drugs. At that moment, the nightmare of the tourist who finds themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time begins. She asks on a Facebook page, [3] created by her mother, Bernadette Kero, and friends, for support.

After the first detention [4][Tetum], being searched and spending 4 nights in a prison in Dili, Stacey was freed but forbidden from leaving the country. Her passport was confiscated and the case referred to the Public Prosecutor for investigation.

On October 27, the investigation was interrupted. The prosecutor charged with the case was dismissed, caught up in the recent events which are shaking the legal system in East Timor [9] [pt].

On October 29, the vet was detained again but this time transferred to the women's prison in Gleno, a few hours from Dili. The American tourist found an arrest warrant in her name waiting for her. She says that she was never formally accused or interrogated by the Public Prosecutor.

Women's prison in Gleno, East Timor.

Women's prison in Gleno, East Timor. Photo: Facebook [10]

Her lawyer, Paulo Remédios, declared to the North American press that Addison's detention violates international human rights law [11].

The North American embassy in Dili [12], which currently has no ambassador, has told the press that it cannot intervene in the country's legal system. However, the American government is under pressure to intervene in the process and also to appoint a new ambassador to East Timor. An Embassy source confirmed to Global Voices that “the United States of America are represented in East Timor by the foreign affairs attaché, Katherine Dueholm, while we await the final appointment of an ambassador”.  

A wave of solidarity initiated by Stacey's friends and family has begun to take shape on Twitter: