"Right now my freedom is on the line," she told The Associated Press in an interview, her curly-haired 18-month-old son, Salvador, playing beside her in a rented apartment as her mother, Rhoda, looked on.
Released just 24 hours earlier from a woman's prison, Berenson expressed profound worry that Peru's top anti-terrorism prosecutor would succeed in sending her back to prison until 2015 to finish out a 20-year sentence for aiding leftist rebels.
"I believe I am the face of terrorism," the bespectacled Berenson, who turns 41 this week, said in measured tones. "I think I'm useful as the face of terrorism."And in an interview with Time, she states
"It is scary, I really feel that I am being singled out. So many people have been released and it has not been a problem, but now that Lori Berenson is out the world is about the end. I don't understand why this continues to be the case. It has been 15 years."...
"There is nothing like my case. It has always been so high profile. I think it is fascinating, but I don't understand it."
It's true that several convicted terrorists have been granted early release after serving 75% of their sentence. However, it doesn't help Berenson's case that she calls the prosecutor out on that fact. It's best to leave that legitimate criticism up to others, such as JosÉ Antonio Nique, president of Peru's bar associations.
"Lori Berenson is not a danger to the country, but she is unlike others in her condition. She is a foreigner, a gringa, and it has been easy to make her a scapegoat. There are sectors that are trying to win political points with her case."Judge Jessica Leon granted Berenson parole in May. However, a three-judge panel sent her back to prison in August because her post-prison address had not been verified by authorities. Judge Leon again granted Berenson parole on Friday. The prosecutor was not too happy with Leon's decision and let her know.
He lashed out at Leon, calling her the patron saint of terrorists and alleging that she might be a terrorist herself, infiltrated into the judiciary system to set free dangerous criminals.
And the prosecutor is not the only Peruvian upset with the decision to release Berenson.
Justice Minister Rosario Fernandez has joined the prosecutor in berating Judge Leon, saying the judge made a serious mistake twice, which is unforgiveable.Berenson's problem now is that her parole has been appealed to the three-judge panel that originally revoked her May parole. They will decide whether she has actually completed 75% of her term. Their decision will partly depend upon how they understand "work and study credits."
If her parole is overturned, she will return to prison until November 30, 2015. She will not have another opportunity to appeal because that provision of the law was eliminated in 2009.
That's why I don't think that Lori Berenson should be speaking to the press. She can't say anything that will help her case. Only things that will hurt.