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US Media Embraces American Terrorist, Calling Her An ‘Activist’

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Terrorist Lori Berenson’s 20-year prison sentence in Peru ended Sunday and she returned to the U.S. Wednesday where she was welcomed by many as an “activist.”

Berenson, an American citizen, was convicted by a Peruvian military court in 1996 of collaborating with terrorists and was sentenced to life in prison. She associated with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Between 1980 and 2000, MRTA was responsible for 1,050 deaths. It planned in 1995 to siege Peru’s National Congress and take members of Congress hostage.

Berenson denies being a member of MRTA in spite of living in the organization’s safe house and previously visiting the National Congress with a journalist visa. She was granted a new civilian trial in 2001 which reduced her sentence

The Associated Press published an interview Monday with Berenson referring to her as an “activist.” Other U.S. media outlets including New York Daily News and CBS News picked up the AP story and continue to refer to Berenson as an “activist.” This reporting has caused outrage in Peru’s media.

In the AP story, Frank Bajak uses quotation marks when saying Berenson collaborated with terrorists. The Peruvian online news publication Diario Altavoz takes issue with his use of quotation marks in an open letter to AP president Mary Junck. The open letter states, “What do you mean [by using quotation marks]? The power of [Peru’s] judicial system does not require quotation marks.”

The column “Living in Peru” of the publication Peru This Week issued an apology as an update to a piece about Berenson being released:

Living in Peru apologizes for causing any harm by the use of the term “activist” in reference to Lori Berenson in this article. The term “activist” was used because it was used in multiple sources including AP (as seen sourced in the article), CBS news, Terra, New York Daily news, and The Seattle Times, among others. We appreciate your comments.

Berenson, 46, along with her 6-year-old son, whose father is her ex-husband and an MRTA terrorist she met in prison, came to the United States after being expelled from Peru. Her ex-husband is also her attorney. Berenson plans to live in New York City with her parents who are university professors. Berenson dropped out of MIT in 1988 and went to El Salvador where she worked with rebels before leaving for Peru in 1994. For the past five years she has been on parole in Lima, Peru, but was allowed to briefly visit her parents in New York City back in 2011 for Christmas along with her son.

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