A Peruvian court has authorized American Lori Berenson who spent 15 years in jail over her ties with leftist guerrillas to go to the United States for the holidays, after her 2010 release on parole.
Berenson will be allowed to travel to the United States any time through January 11, an appeals court ruled Thursday, overturning a lower court’s decision, her husband and lawyer Anibal Apari told local media.
New York-born Berenson, 42, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1995 for having collaborated with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) leftist guerrilla group.
Berenson was convicted of participating in a foiled MRTA plot to seize control of Peru’s congress and take lawmakers hostage. She allegedly used her press credentials to gather information used to prepare for the takeover.
Despite her support for the MRTA, Berenson has repeatedly denied she was involved in any acts of violence.
She was released on parole last year after spending 15 years in prison, but Peruvian law requires Berenson to live in Lima for the remainder of her sentence.
The appeals court granted Berenson’s request for holiday leave, saying her travels to the United States “would not prevent her from serving the remainder of her sentence.”
Anti-terror prosecutor Julio Galindo denounced the ruling, saying, “There is no guarantee that this former MRTA member will return to Peru.”
Berenson’s 2010 release sparked a public outcry in Peru, where she is remembered as a defiant foreigner raising her fist and chanting leftist slogans during her trial in 1995 — a tirade broadcast on television.
The MRTA has since disintegrated, with most of its members either dead or in prison following a fierce government crackdown on leftist guerrilla groups in the 1990s under then president Alberto Fujimori.
It gained notoriety for taking over the Japanese ambassador’s Lima residence in December 1996, taking 72 hostages. The standoff lasted four months until a raid that left 14 rebels and one hostage dead.
MRTA was less well known than the Shining Path, another guerrilla group that has largely been eliminated.
* AFP, 12/16/2011