San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Peru deports Lori Berenson after she served 20-year terror sentence

LIMA, Peru – A U.S. woman jailed for 20 years in Peru on terrorism charges was deported early Thursday after completing her sentence, authorities said.

Lori Berenson, a 46-year-old New York native, was arrested in 1995 and convicted of helping the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), an armed leftist group, in a failed plot to storm the Peruvian legislature.

She was released on parole after serving 15 years of her prison sentence, but was barred from leaving the country, except for one court-authorized trip home for the holidays in 2011.

Police escorted her to the Lima airport and placed her on a commercial flight bound for the United States, the Peruvian immigration department said.

She is permanently banned from Peru, said special terrorism prosecutor Milko Ruiz.

“This is a measure that applies to [convicted] foreigners – once they leave they can never legally return to Peru,” he said.

The daughter of two university professors, Berenson was drawn as a young woman by the lure of engaging in Latin America’s leftist political struggles.

She followed her passion first to El Salvador, which was emerging from a brutal civil war pitting leftist guerrillas against a repressive regime, and then to Peru, where she joined the MRTA.

Together with Maoist rebel group Shining Path, the MRTA waged a bloody guerrilla campaign against the Peruvian government that left 70,000 people dead or missing from 1980 to 2000.

While in prison, Berenson gave birth to a son fathered by her attorney and now ex-husband Anibal Apari.

Six years ago she asked for forgiveness from those who were affected by her actions.

She admitted being an MRTA member but said she was not a leader and had committed no violent acts.

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