LIMA, Peru - A Peruvian court has ruled that paroled U.S. activist Lori Berenson and her toddler son may travel to New York for the holidays, she and her father confirmed Friday.
A three-judge appeals court on Wednesday overturned a lower court judge's ruling denying Berenson permission to travel, said Guillermo Gonzalez, spokesman for Peru's judicial system. He said she could leave the country from Dec. 16 to Jan. 11.
"I'm very glad that Peru is respecting its laws and human rights," Berenson's father, Mark, said by phone from Manhattan. "As Lori says, if she doesn't come home, let Interpol arrest her."
"She is not trying to ever break the law again," he added.
If she doesn't return to Peru by Jan. 11, the country's government could seek her extradition and return her to prison for violating parole, Gonzalez said.
Lori Berenson, 42, a former MIT student, was arrested in 1995 and accused of helping leftist rebels plan an armed takeover of Peru's Congress, an attack that never happened. She was paroled in May 2010 after serving 15 years but cannot leave Peru permanently until her sentence ends in 2015.
Her father said he was "petrified" that a negative local reaction to the New York visit could prevent her trip, including celebrating his 70th birthday Dec. 29. Some Peruvians consider his daughter a terrorist, opposed her parole, and have publicly insulted her on the street. He said that as far as he knew, she was still trying to buy a ticket for herself and son Salvador, 21/2.
Reached by the Associated Press, Lori Berenson confirmed her court permission but added by text message, "I am not speaking to the press."
Lori Berenson is separated from Salvador's father, Anibal Apari, whom she met in prison and who is her lawyer. He said he signed documents letting her travel with the boy.
Mark Berenson said his daughter was looking forward to seeing relatives she hasn't met since her 20s.