US woman may be stuck in E Timor for 2-year drug probe: Lawyer

US woman may be stuck in E Timor for 2-year drug probe: Lawyer

DILI, East Timor - An American woman arrested in East Timor after drugs were found in a taxi she was sharing will be forced to stay in the country for an investigation lasting up to two years, her lawyer said Friday.

The United States had on Thursday cheered the release from jail of Stacey Addison, an American veterinarian who was travelling in East Timor as a tourist when she was arrested on September 5.

But her lawyer Paulo Remedios said prosecutors will need up to two years to investigate trafficking allegations against Addison – who denies any wrongdoing – during which she will be not be allowed to leave East Timor.

“The investigation into the case will take one to two years, during which she will be banned from an overseas trip,” the lawyer told a press conference.

“She was released from jail Thursday but under city arrest. She remains a suspect.” A Facebook page campaigning for Addison’s freedom said Thursday that she had been released from her cell on Christmas Day but her passport remained in the hands of East Timor authorities.

Methamphetamine was found in the shared taxi that was carrying Addison to East Timor’s capital Dili.

The vet, who had just crossed from Indonesia when she was arrested, has said that another passenger – who was a stranger – picked up a package containing the drugs. Police later detained everyone in the car.

On Facebook, supporters said embassy staff had “worked all day on Christmas to secure the paperwork for her release”.

“She has kindly been invited to stay at the guest house of the former President of East Timor and Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta,” the post said.

It added she will be checked by doctors and given time to recuperate and rest.

Addison was conditionally released from jail after several days behind bars in September, but was returned to prison on October 29 after a hearing to get her passport back.

East Timor, a poor half-island nation that was occupied by Indonesia for over two decades, imposes tough punishments for drugs cases, including the death penalty for traffickers.

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