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American Lori Berenson Prevented From Leaving Peru

American activist Lori Berenson attends a hearing at a court in Lima, Peru, January 10, 2011.

American Lori Berenson, who spent 15 years in prison in Peru for aiding Marxist insurgents, says she has been prevented from leaving the country despite being granted permission in court to spend the holidays in New York with her family.

Berenson said the authorities falsely accused her of arriving late for the Saturday flight. Her lawyer, Anibal Apari, said the government abused its authority.

Berenson, who is 42, was paroled last year after serving 15 years for aiding the Tupac Amaru leftist rebel group.

When she was arrested in 1995, the former Massachusetts Institute of Technology student was accused of helping the rebels plan an armed takeover of Congress, an attack that never happened.

A military court initially convicted Berenson and sentenced her to life in prison. The sentence was overturned in 2000 and Berenson was retried in a civilian court.

Berenson is a controversial figure in Peru. She has publicly apologized for collaborating with the rebel group, and said she was not a militant or a leader and did not participate in any violent acts.

In May 2009, Berenson gave birth to her son. Apari is the father. Apari spent 12-and-a-half years in prison for involvement with the rebels. Apari married Berenson in 2003 and had been allowed to see her in prison. The two are now separated.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.