NEWARK, N.J. —American Lori Berenson, who stirred international controversy when she was convicted of aiding Peruvian guerrillas, arrived in the United States yesterday morning for her first visit home since Peruvian authorities arrested her in 1995.
After going through customs at Newark Airport, the 42-year-old did not speak to reporters. She and her 2-year-old son were escorted by Port Authority police to a car, which took them to New York City.
They were joined by Berenson’s mother, Rhoda.
“We are looking forward to the first holiday at home in a long, long time and many relatives who haven’t met Salvador are excited to see him,’’ Rhoda Berenson said, speaking of her toddler grandson.
“This is not a political time; this is a time for family, friends, and holidays,’’ she said. She brought a winter coat for her grandson, who has never been in such a cold climate before.
Lori Berenson boarded a Continental Airlines flight at Lima’s main airport late Monday under intense media scrutiny. Many in Peru wonder whether she will return to the country by the court-ordered deadline of Jan. 11, but Berenson told a reporter in Lima that she intended to return.
“I just hope we don’t get caught in a snowstorm,’’ she said.
Berenson is a native of New York and attended MIT. She has admitted helping the Tupac Amaru rebel group rent a safe house where Peruvian authorities seized a cache of weapons after a shootout with the rebels. She insists she did not know guns were stored there and says she never joined the group.
Berenson had served 15 years on an accomplice to terrorism conviction before her parole last year. By law, she must remain in Peru until her full sentence lapses unless President Ollanta Humala commutes it.