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Lori Berenson Arrives in US

Lori Berenson sits in a migration office in Lima December 19, 2011.
Lori Berenson sits in a migration office in Lima December 19, 2011.

American citizen Lori Berenson, who was jailed in Peru for collaborating with leftist guerrillas, has returned to the United States for her first visit in 16 years.

The 42-year-old Berenson arrived Tuesday at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, along with her 2-year-old son, Salvador.

Berenson first tried to fly to the U.S. on Saturday after a Peruvian court gave her permission to spend the holidays in New York with her family. But, Peruvian authorities prevented her from leaving. Berenson said authorities falsely accused her of arriving late for the Saturday flight. Her lawyer, Anibal Apari, said the government abused its authority.

Berenson was paroled last year after serving 15 years of a 20-year sentence, but Peruvian law requires that she live in Peru for the remainder of her sentence unless President Ollanta Humala decides to commute it. Berenson has until January 11 to go back to the South American country. Berenson has told an Associated Press reporter she intends to return to Peru.

Berenson is a controversial figure in Peru. The former Massachusetts Institute of Technology student was arrested in 1995 and initially sentenced to life in prison for helping the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, or MRTA, plan an armed takeover of the Peruvian Congress. The attack never took place.

Berenson's sentence was overturned in 2000 and she was retried in a civilian court.

Berenson has publicly apologized for collaborating with the rebel group and said she was not a militant or leader and did not participate in any violent acts. Some Peruvians, however, have insulted her in the street.

In 2003, Berenson married her lawyer, Anibal Apari, who spent 12-and-a-half years in prison for involvement with the rebels. In May 2009, she gave birth to her son. Berenson and Apari are now separated.

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