[Pnews] Lori Berenson returns to US after spending almost 20 years in a Peruvian jail on charges she aided Marxist rebels

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 4 10:47:22 EST 2015

  Lori Berenson returns to New York City after spending almost 20 years
  in a Peruvian jail on charges she aided Marxist rebels

BY Laura Bult <http://www.nydailynews.com/authors?author=Laura-Bult>, 
Ginger Adams Otis 
Thursday, December 3, 2015, 3:19 PM

After nearly 20 years in a Peruvian jail on terrorism-related charges, 
Lori Berenson returned to New York a free woman Thursday.

The 46-year-old was all smiles as she walked through JFK airport with 
her uncle 
— even after a four-hour interrogation at customs.

“I just want to say I'm very grateful for the interest and I'm not going 
to be giving any further declarations,” Berenson said.

“I'm very grateful to all the people who've helped over the years and 
I'm glad to be with my family,” she added.

Her 6-year-old son Salvador — who was born behind bars in Peru — 
traveled with her on the overnight flight.

He left the airport ahead of Berenson with her parents, college 
professors Rhoda and Mark Berenson.

Berenson spent the last five years living quietly in Lima with her son 
after Peruvian authorities paroled her in 2010.

She was able to make a brief visit home a year later but then was barred 
from leaving Peru again until her full 20-year sentence elapsed.

Her uncle, Ken Berenson, 70, came from Mt. Vernon to greet his niece and 
keep her company as she waited for customs to give her clearance to 
re-enter the U.S.

“I'm feeling great about seeing my niece, it's a 20-year wait for her 
freedom, so I'm very upbeat about that,” he said.

He said his niece was “enthusiastic” about beginning a fresh life with 
her son in New York City.

She planned to stay with her parents in their Kips Bay apartment until 
she got settled.

Last year Berenson completed an online sociology degree from the City 
University of New York.

“My objective is to continue to work in social justice issues, in a 
different capacity obviously,” she told the Associated Press.

Her uncle said a big family reunion was in the works.

“She's coming to my house over the weekend for a party,” he said.

He said he was relieved to have his niece home — and through U.S. customs.

“I’d imagine they have a lot of questions for her,” he said, about the 
lengthy wait for his niece to be processed.

Berenson was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 
Cambridge, Mass., when she dropped out in the early 1990s to travel to 
Latin America.

While there she worked to support leftist rebels and in 1994 went to 
Peru, where she got involved with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

Berenson has always denied knowing about the group’s plot in 1995 to 
storm the Peruvian congress and kidnap lawmakers.

But when the plot failed, she was rounded up along with the rebel 
leader’s wife and convicted of “collaborating with terrorism.”

She had rented and was living in the safe house used by the Tupac Amaru 
Revolutionary Movement as it prepared to raid Congress.

Berenson was sent to a barebones Peruvian prison high in the Andes, at 
12,700 feet.

The altitude affected her health and eventually — after pressure from 
U.S. officials — she was moved and later allowed to live in Lima.

As she and her son Salvador left Peru Wednesday night — ringed by police 
— some people shouted “Get out of here, terrorist!”

In a text message to the Associated Press, Berenson said the experience 
was “incredibly surreal although entirely typical.”


  After 20-year sentence in Peru, Lori Berenson returns to New York


By Eduardo Munoz and Mauricio Ramirez

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorker Lori Berenson, who was convicted of 
aiding leftist rebels in Peru 20 years ago, returned to her hometown on 

Berenson, 46, emerged from a terminal at John F. Kennedy International 
Airport and said she was glad to be home after finishing a 20-year 
sentence for supporting the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, or MRTA, 
a guerilla group that was active in the 1980s and 1990s.

“I’m very grateful to everyone who’s helped me, and I’m happy to be with 
my family,” said Berenson, who was casually dressed with her hair pulled 
back in a ponytail. She declined further comment.

Berenson's attorney Anibal Apari said on Tuesday that she would be 
traveling with her 6-year-old son, Salvador, who was born while she in a 
Peruvian prison. Apari is the boy's father. Berenson left the airport in 
a private car and the boy's whereabouts were not known.

Apari, a former member of MRTA, and Berenson met in 1997 while they were 
both in prison.

The daughter of college professors from Manhattan, Berenson had left her 
studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and went to Latin 
America to support leftist movements. She is among a number of people in 
Peru finishing sentences for crimes linked to the country's civil war, 
in which an estimated 69,000 people died.

Berenson was convicted of supporting MRTA but was never convicted of 
participating in violent acts.

A military tribunal sentenced her to life in prison under counter 
terrorism laws, but she was retried in a civilian court and her sentence 
was reduced after pressure from her parents, human rights groups and the 
U.S. government.

She served 15 years in prison, part of it in solitary confinement, and 
the past five years on parole.

Berenson and her son had come to the United States in 2011, but returned 
to Peru after authorities there passed a law barring foreigners 
convicted of terrorism-related crimes from travel.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20151204/c673fb0b/attachment.html>

More information about the PPnews mailing list