Paroled American Berenson arrives in US from Peru

NEW YORK (AP) — Lori Berenson, a New Yorker paroled from a Peruvian prison after 15 years behind bars for aiding a leftist revolutionary group, arrived in the U.S. on Tuesday for her first visit home since her arrest in 1995.

Berenson, 42, did not speak to reporters after landing at the Newark airport with her 2-year-old son, Salvador. They were escorted by police to a waiting car as the boy looked with wonderment at the gaggle of reporters and flashing cameras.

Earlier, Berenson’s mother, Rhoda Berenson, clutched a Bloomingdale’s bag containing a winter coat for her grandson as she awaited her daughter’s arrival.

“We are looking forward to the first holiday at home in a long, long time, and many relatives who haven’t met Salvador are excited to see him,” she said. “This is not a political time; this is a time for family, friends and holidays.”

Berenson was arrested at age 26 and accused of helping plot an armed takeover of Peru’s Congress, which she had entered by saying she was a journalist. The attack never took place.

She admitted helping the Tupac Amaru rebel group rent a safe house where authorities seized a cache of weapons after a shootout. But she has insisted she didn’t know guns were stored there and never joined the group.

A daughter of college professors and a onetime student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Berenson was convicted of being an accomplice to terrorism. She won early release last year from her 20-year prison sentence.

She needed Peruvian court approval to spend the holidays with her family in New York City and must return to the South American country by Jan. 11.

Berenson boarded a Continental Airlines flight at Lima’s main airport Monday, with many in Peru wondering whether she would come back. She told an Associated Press reporter while waiting for her flight that she intends to return to Peru.

“I just hope we don’t get caught in a snowstorm,” she said, joking that it would delay her return.

AP Photo NYHA104, NYHA106, NYHA102, LIM109

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