May 25th, 2010
07:20 PM ET

American jailed in Peru for helping rebels is freed

Lori Berenson, a U.S. citizen jailed in Peru since 1995 for helping leftist rebels, has been granted conditional release, a judge announced Tuesday.

Berenson has served 15 years of a 20-year sentence for aiding Peruvian rebels in a 1995 plot to overthrow Peru's congress.

Judge Jessica Leon Yarango made the announcement in a televised court hearing after Berenson's lawyer made the request.

- Journalist Maria Elena Belaunde contributed to this story from Lima.

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Filed under: Justice • Peru
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Janice Murphy

    I have just watched CNN’s coverage of Lori Berenson being released on parole in Lima, Peru, with Anjali Rao reporting and Lori Berenson’s father talking about how happy he feels that his daughter and grandson will soon be out of prison. As a resident of Lima who lived here during the most intense years of Peru’s battle against terrorism, I’d like to thank you for your objective reporting and for resisting the urge that TV reporters in the U.S. have had to portray her as an innocent victim of chaos in a south-of-the-border banana country. Her father’s happiness is as understandable as how seriously we take terrorism here. If she had been accused of being involved in the Oklahoma City bombing or the September 11th attack, I don’t think that the U.S. media would have spun their coverage of her case in the same way.

    May 25, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jim

    Janice, we here in the U.S. have long given up on objective reporting in the media. It is another sign of the decline of America. America's news organizations are now recognized as bias and untrustworthy. Most are owned by larger corporations, whose interests are often in conflict with reporting the news without bias. I am happy the Peruvian justice has been tempered with some degree of mercy, but agree with you that Lori Berenson's conduct warranted here conviction and incarceration. She knew what she was doing and she deserved the sentence she received. Only time will tell whether she recognizes her transgressions or seeks to justify her illegal conduct. As interesting as that may be, it will be equally interesting to see how the media portrays it.

    May 25, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      You are a moron Jim. CNN is about as left of center as you can get. Doesnt matter than it is owned by a corporation. And this terrorist should have served her full sentence for the crimes she committed against the people of Peru.

      June 8, 2010 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. alejandro de la riva aguero

    she is a proved terrorist, that is the main reason why she was in jail, and she should stay in jail untill her sentence is complete, it doesn't matter if she is from the USA or from Bolivia or from Zaire......

    May 25, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • 3SG

      Laws are different in each country. In most Latin American countries, jail sentences are not meant to be served full unless the convicted person misbehave hard. It has nothing to do with her being American.

      June 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robert

    Are you kidding? The facts were pretty minimal, and for what the supposed terrorism was the sentence was overly harsh. It is good to see an early release as justification of some of these oversights. Peru still is a second world country and dangerous to travel to at times.

    May 25, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • fiorella

      She is a terrorist. I dont thinks that anyone can be harsh with a terrorist. Would americans treat terrorist better than peruvians? Dont think so. Plus Peru is not a dangerous contry. Maybe you havent travel enough...

      May 26, 2010 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Manny

      First Off Fiorella, Learn to Spell. Second of all, Please don't say that Peru is not a dangerous country. I was there in the mid 80's during the "Shinning Path's" Heyday. I saw people dead from their actions. Maybe YOU haven't traveled enough. HEad out to Peru's mountain country and see if you can leave your home after 7-8 at night. Wish you luck.

      May 26, 2010 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Lu

      Manny, you have traveled enough, but it seems that was a long time ago, things have changed quite a bit

      May 27, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marco

      LOL @ Manny. Good one about traveling to Peru in the 1980s. Oh hey, I heard it was dangerous for black people in the 1800s, so they better not travel to the United States!

      June 8, 2010 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. Larry

    This article is lacking so much information, why bother writing such a lame piece. What's the history? What was the United States' position on the charges? There were many questions left unanswered by this Journalist ( Belaund), next time provide better coverage of a story or go home. And the use of the word "American" in your headline and then stating U.S. citizen, is just stupid. The word "American", does not belong just the United States; it also belongs to people from Peru, Mexico, Colombia, etc., because these countries are in the Americas.

    May 25, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matis

    Of course its harsh if one of our own is sent to prison in a third world county. Had that been someone here helping a terrorist we wouldn't have said the same.

    May 25, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ISD

    Second world country? Definitely still a third...! Been there and very third. Just sayin..

    May 25, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bernardo Reinoso

    Robert, is Detroit not dangerous, south boston, chicago, LA, etc. your comment is of such IGNORANCE that you should be ashamed, specially after 9/11.
    She is a proven terrorist, look in youtube (maybe you can watch a video of her) how defiant she is when they capture her. Someone who is innocent is afraid and doesn't act like that

    May 25, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andrés

    Ok, first of all, Lori Berenson wasn't helping "rebels" she was helping TERRORISTS. Second, I completely agree with Bernardo Reinoso, there is ignorance everywhere in the world.
    Robert, I don't think you have ever been afraid of going out to work because someone could kidnap the bus you were traveling in, or that you weren't afraid of sending your kids to school because some random person could kidnap the bus your KIDS were traveling in. It's something we peruvians have had to live with for a very long time. We have suffered so many terrorist attacks, so many killings, kidnaps and deaths. Have you ever had to deal with that? Or just was it that you were scared of sending your kids to school and there was a shooting made by other kids?
    I'm just saying, U.S. is as dangerous as Peru, and perhaps even more.

    May 25, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ashley

    in America prisoners are let go early for good behavior all the time. whether she should have served the whole time is not our decision but the courts. if she aided rebels/terrorists knowingly, then it's her fault & she has served her sentence. not much different then what we do with prisoners here in the US & other countries do

    May 25, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gianfranco Loli

    If she gets out of jail, she should be deported to the USA, we do not want proven terrorists (not "rebels" as if we were villagers) to walk our streets among decent people.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gianfranco Loli

    Oh and by the way, to Larry and Bernardo Reynoso, you should do some research before posting something that reflects your ignorance, a second world country refers to those under a communist regime such as Cuba or China, therefore Peru being a democracy cannot be classified as one ... Just saying

    May 25, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Susana

    Why do they hand down a sentence and then let the prisoner out early? I don't get this. It's like upping a price tag then declaring a sale.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sandra

    There are different worlds in the US, first, second, third, fourth .... Just remember the poverty the whole world saw during the Katrina hurricane, or the peopke that live in Mississippi, or the homeless people in all cities in the US .... Also, the crime in various US cities is very high (MIami, LA, Chicago, Houston, etc), therefore the US is a very dangerous and unsafe place ... This American citizen called Lori Berenson is a LOSER, she never finished her studies at MIT, married to a terrorist, lived in jailed for almost 15 years and now, if you want her, we can send her to you and you take care of her .... You'd better fix your economy!

    May 26, 2010 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • robert

      Sandra, I hate to burst you bubble, but we are all losers in our life, if not once in our life then multiple, doesn not matter
      if you are a saint or a serial killer. As Solzhenitsyn said; The line dividing good and evil cuts trough the heart of every human being.And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

      November 9, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. Wishy Washy United States

    This person is a terrorist plain and simple.. NO gray area! If a foreigner in her situation was in the US trying to help a militia overthrow the US government she would be in Gitmo!

    May 26, 2010 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
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