UC Berkeley alumna released from prison in East Timor

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A UC Berkeley alumna who has been detained in East Timor since September as a suspect in a drug trafficking crime she says she did not commit was released from prison last Thursday.

On Sept. 5, Stacey Addison was arrested on her way to Dili, the capital of East Timor, when the taxi she was in was stopped by police, who had received a tip that the other passenger in the taxi — a stranger to Addison — was allegedly holding a package containing methamphetamines.

After four nights in jail, she was released on conditional liberty, requiring her to stay in the country for the duration of an investigation which could last up to a year. Her passport was held pending further investigation. In late October, Addison was imprisoned a second time after the case’s prosecutor filed an appeal to have her conditional release rescinded.

The papers for Addison’s release were signed by a judge Thursday, but her passport was not returned.

Addison is currently staying at the guesthouse of former president of East Timor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta. Addison’s mother, Bernadette Kero, said Addison was ill while in prison and has been making visits to the local clinic.

Following Addison’s initial arrest in September, she was not questioned until Dec. 9, Kero said, after a new prosecutor was assigned to the case. Kero said the first prosecutor has since been found to have been involved in unrelated cases of gross negligence.

Kero said she was told that the questioning went well and provided the basis for the attorney representing Addison, Paul Remedios, to file a petition of release.

In November, Oregon senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden urged a confirmation vote for the nomination of Karen Stanton as the U.S. ambassador to East Timor to speed up Addison’s release. Stanton’s appointment was confirmed Nov. 17.

In an email, Remedios said that the release request submitted to the judge was approved “not because of any political lobby or victory from any senator or ambassador” and that he has not communicated with the U.S. ambassador or senators during the entire process.

According to Kero, though Addison feels safe to be released, she remains “very anxious” over when she will receive her passport.

“(We) met part of our goal of having Stacey released from prison,” Kero said, in an email. “But we are still fighting to have her passport returned.”

Heyun Jeong is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @heyunjeong.