Updated 05:32 AM EDT, Thu, Apr 22, 2021

American Woman Jailed for Helping Peruvian Rebels in the 90s Returns Home to New York

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After serving a 20-year jail term in a Peru prison for aiding leftist rebels during the 1990s, New York resident, Lori Berenson, is back home.

An Associated Press (AP) report published by Yahoo Sports said Berenson arrived at the Kennedy Airport on Thursday, with her son.

The 46-year-old shared that she spent the last five years in Lima, Peru's capital, with her 6-year-old son after she was granted parole in 2010. Despite regaining freedom a few years back, Berenson was still not allowed to leave the country until her sentence finished.

"I'm very grateful to all the people who helped me over the years, and I'm glad to be with my family, thank you very much," Berenson told AP.

Upon arrival at the New York City airport, Berenson was still questioned by federal officials before officially welcoming her back to the country. US ambassador to Peru, Brian Nichols, clarified that she was not charged with anything in her home country.

According to New York Daily News, Berenson dropped out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge to travel to Latin America in the early 1990s.

She reportedly worked there as a supporter of leftist rebel groups and then traveled to Peru in 1994. It was in this country that she became associated with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

Berenson claimed that she was not aware of the group's plan in 1995 to go to the Peruvian congress and kidnap lawmakers.

In addition, the New York Times said Berenson was convicted of treason and sentenced to life. She was taken to a prison in the Andes Mountains where water was scarce and window panes did not exist because of the cold weather.

But because of the effort of the United States to prove that she was not a leader of any rebel group, Berenson was granted a new trial where she was found guilty of lesser charges and a prison term of 20 years.

It was added in The New York Times report that Berenson apologized in 2010 as one of the conditions of her parole, though she maintained that she was not aware of the leftist group's plot until she was arrested.

"I knew the M.R.T.A. was not a legal movement. I could have asked more questions. I didn't ask and I didn't condemn them, that's the thing. I defended them when I was presented," Berenson added.

She also claimed that with her stay with the group, she did not see any weapons in their possession.

"That was not an issue I knew about," she noted.

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