Latin America & Caribbean

US 'rebel' Berenson apologises to Peruvians

Lori Berenson arrives for a parole hearing on 16 August 2010
Lori Berenson says she was never a leader or a militant of the Tupac Amaru

An American woman who was jailed in Peru for aiding left-wing guerrillas has apologised for her actions and asked to remain free on parole.

Lori Berenson, 40, was freed in May after serving 15 years out of a 20-year prison sentence for collaborating with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

As part of its insurgency, the group robbed banks, kidnapped and killed a number of people in the 1980s and 90s.

The decision to grant Ms Berenson parole is currently being reviewed.

Lori Berenson said that if her coming to Peru had meant any harm, she was sorry and regretted it.

"I was sentenced for the crime of collaboration with the MRTA (Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement), but I haven't been a leader nor militant," she said.

"I have never participated in acts of violence... nor have I killed anyone," she added.

Rebel contacts

The daughter of university professors, Ms Berenson travelled to Central and South America in the 1990s.

During her travels, she is believed to have made contact with the Tupac Amaru.

She was arrested in November 1995 after she gained access to the Peruvian Congress alongside the wife of the Tupac Amaru leader, using what the authorities claimed were false journalistic credentials.

Military prosecutors accused her of gathering information for a rebel plot to kidnap members of Congress and exchange them for imprisoned rebel leaders.

She was convicted to 20 years in prison for terrorist collaboration, but after serving 15 years she was freed on parole in May 2010.

Polls suggest Peruvians widely disapprove of the decision to release her, and prosecutors say the arguments for freeing her were riddled with errors.

A three-judge panel is currently discussing whether to revoke the decision.

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