After being sentenced to life in prison in 1995, NYC native Lori Berenson has been freed in Peru. Her conditional parole (she must remain in the country for another five years) comes at the end of a long political and legal struggle, which transformed Berenson into a high profile left-wing symbol on par with Mumia Abu-Jamal. Berenson was arrested on a bus in Peru 15 years ago and convicted of collaborating with the Marxist rebel group MRTA in a foiled terrorist plot to take the Peruvian Congress hostage. Yesterday a judge in Lima ruled that she had "completed re-education, rehabilitation and re-socialization."
Berenson had long maintained her innocence, but her release was finally granted after her lawyers admitted she "recognized she committed errors in involving herself in activities of the MRTA." Upon learning of the court's decision, her father, a college professor in New Jersey, was overjoyed, and told the Post, "I let out a shout that I think my daughter heard in Peru." Berenson, 40, gave birth to a son in prison last year; her husband, Aníbal Apari, was arrested with her in 1995 and has served as her attorney since his release from prison. The couple is currently separated, but Apari was in the courtroom yesterday, and the Times reports that they "briefly hugged" when the decision was read.