'Something Is Very, Very Wrong': Australian Woman Detained In Thailand Not Heard From For Days
Friends and family of an Australian woman believed to be detained in Thailand are concerned after not hearing from her for several days.
Claire Johnson was due to return home in Sydney last Saturday, friends say, but never arrived at the airport.
She'd run into immigration issues in Thailand the week previously and had been taken into detention.
She'd sent several panicked messages to a friend in the United States, Simon Treselyan, who agreed to pay her 3,000 baht ($132) fine as well book a flight from Bangkok to Sydney, via Indonesia.
"I'm on my way to court," Johnson told Treselyan last week, in messages seen by 10 daily. "Then with the flights booked and [a] fine of 3,000 baht, they will let me go."
However, she was not on the flight to Sydney. A few days later, on Monday, she sent a number of messages to Australian friend Juliet Potter.
"I am crying my eyes out. I am in shock," she said in one message.
"I'll be back in [the] next few days. I've got to suck this up and ask for help," she said in another.
"I feel like a prisoner."
Potter told 10 daily she believes Johnson may have overstayed her visa. She has not heard from her friend since Monday.
"No one knows where she is," Potter told 10 daily on Wednesday afternoon.
"Something is very, very wrong."
The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was providing consular assistance to a woman detained in Thailand, but for privacy reasons could not provide further details.
It's not clear how long Johnson has been in Thailand, although Potter believes she'd been travelling for about a year.
Johnson is managing director at Cosmetic Holidays International, according to her social media, a company that arranges holidays for people to undergo cosmetic and dental procedures in Thailand.
Travel Insurance Direct spokesperson Phyl Sylvester told 10 daily it was uncommon for people to run into serious visa issues overseas, but not unheard of. He estimated about 40 or so Australians of the 10 million who travelled each year ran into visa issues.
"We get a lot more calls about passport problems, suddenly expired, which are on par with visa problems," he said, stressing the importance of paying attention to visa requirements.
"Countries take their sovereignty very, very seriously, they're trying to send a message to you through those tough fines that you've got to get your visa right.
"It's not something of an inconvenience to travellers, this is government and legal requirement."
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