LIMA – U.S. citizen Lori Berenson, who spent 15 years in a Peruvian prison for aiding leftist rebels, was expelled from the Andean nation after completing a five-year parole.
Berenson, 45, arrived at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport on Wednesday with her 6-year-old son and was escorted by police to the gate where she and the boy boarded a commercial flight to New York.
Amid a crush of reporters, some in the airport shouted “terruca” (terrorist) at the American woman as she carried her son to the gate.
Berenson was arrested in December 1995 as she was leaving the Peruvian Congress.
Prosecutors said she entered the premises with false press credentials to obtain information on the building’s security systems for use in planning an attack by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, or MRTA, guerrilla group.
A day after her arrest, police foiled an MRTA plot to storm Congress, take lawmakers hostage and exchange them for jailed leaders of the now-defunct rebel group.
One of the special military courts established by then-President Alberto Fujimori – now serving time for massacres committed during his administration – sentenced Berenson to life behind bars for treason.
The sentence was reduced to 20 years by a civilian court that retried the U.S. activist after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled invalid the verdicts handed down by the Fujimori-era panels.
Though granted parole in 2010 after serving 15 years behind bars, Berenson was required to remain in Peru for an additional five years.
Anibal Apari, Berenson’s former attorney and the father of her son, said that her sentence officially ended on Nov. 29, leaving her “free of all restrictions.”
In an interview published last Sunday in Lima daily La Republica, Berenson expressed “deep sorrow for the victims of the armed conflict in Peru, to which I was connected through my collaboration with the MRTA.”
“To all the people who have felt hurt or offended by my words or actions, I apologize,” she said, while insisting that she “never” took part in any MRTA attacks.