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article imageUS citizen imprisoned for 15 years in Peru is released

By Igor I. Solar     May 26, 2010 in World
Lima - Lori Berenson, an American citizen, was released yesterday after 15 years in a Peruvian prison. The woman, was convicted in 1995 for collaborating with the now inactive Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).
Berenson left Lima's Chorrillos women's prison by decision of Judge Jessica Leon, who agreed to her request for conditional parole after having served more than two thirds of her 20-year sentence. During her prison term, Berenson, now 40 years old, had a child with a prison inmate also belonging to the MRTA.
In granting probation, the judge set a series of rules which include the obligation for Berenson to remain in Peru until the completion of her sentence. The prosecution will appeal.
Lori Berenson, originally from New York, was captured in 1995 along with Nancy Gilvonio, the wife of Nestor Cerpa, then leader of the MRTA, when both women were on a bus in downtown Lima. They were accused of inspecting the Peruvian Congress in an operation preparatory to the armed terrorist organization storming the building. Although Berenson did not have journalistic training or degree, she was posing as a reporter and Gilvonio as her photographer. The plan was to gather enough information about the Congress for the MRTA to invade the building, take hostage the legislators, and exchange them for MRTA prisoners.
According to the government of then President Alberto Fujimori, the MRTA was a terrorist organization fighting the authorities with the objective of overthrowing the government. Later on, in December 1996, fourteen MRTA militants seized the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Lima, taking hostage about four hundred diplomats and , government officials. The government rejected the militants' demand to release imprisoned MRTA members and secretly prepared a plan to storm the residence. After a 4-month long standoff, on April 22, 1997, a team of military commandos raided the building. One hostage, two soldiers and all 14 MRTA insurgents were killed.
This article published today (27/05/10) in the NYT adds an interesting perspective on how Peru and Lori Berensen have changed since she was imprisoned in 1995.
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