News from Lori's Parents

19 August 1998

In this update:

Lori has been held hostage by Perú for 993 days!

Much has happened since our last update of 24 June and we have included brief chronological summaries below.

Given that the Peruvian government continues to ignore the appeals from the U.S. government and international human rights groups that Lori be given justice, and given that the Peruvian government has purposely singled-out Lori for unduly harsh treatment because she is an American citizen so that it can continue to "use" her for its own political gains, we believe Lori is a hostage in Perú. We have urged President Clinton to fulfill his legal and moral obligations to protect the interests of American citizens when wrongfully incarcerated abroad and invoke 22 U.S.C. Section 1732 which requires him to take all actions necessary, short of going to war, to secure Lori's release. Today marks 993 days of wrongful incarceration -- enough is enough!

Call to Action

  1. Call your Congressional Representative and your Senators (local office or Washington, 202-225-3121) and ask for the Legislative Aide on Human Rights. Request that a letter be written or call to the White House be made urging President Clinton to invoke 22 U.S.C. Section 1732 to secure Lori's release. Sample letters can be obtained from Maggie McDow, office of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, 202-225-7944.
  2. Call the White House Hotline (202-456-1111) or write to President Clinton urging the above action for Lori.

Summary of the Last 9 Weeks:

Father's Day: Lori's Case Resurfaces in Perú

On June 21, Peruvian Prime Minister Valle Riestra had urged that Lori be pardoned and expelled from Perú because it was an error to charge her, a non-Peruvian, with treason and that her secret military trial was flawed and part of a "repressive" judicial system. Three days later, after President Fujimori refused to adhere to his Prime Minister's proposal, Valle Riestra tended his resignation but Fujimori asked him to stay on. Valle Riestra agreed, vowing to continue lobbying for a pardon for Lori and for other efforts to improve human rights and democracy in Perú.

NY Times Editorial Backs Perú's Prime Minister

On July 26, The New York Times editorial "Perú's Prisoners" backed the Valle Riestra proposal and urged President Fujimori to listen to the wise council offered by his Prime Minister on several matters. (See Web site).

Perú's Prime Minister Resigns over Human Rights; Calls Perú "Totalitarian"

Unfortunately, Valle Riestra's tenure was short-lived. On August 7 -- just two months in office -- Valle Riestra's offer to resign was accepted. Valle Riestra said "I am a democrat and here there is a totalitarian spirit." He stated that Fujimori was surrounded by supporters with little respect for democracy and human rights. The BBC reported that Valle Riestra had said Fujimori "was being backed by politicians who were trying to impose fascism on Peruvian life."

U.S. Ambassador Jett Defends Lori

On June 25, President Fujimori attended an investments meeting in New York City -- days after Lori's case had resurfaced in Lima. A press conference had to be abruptly canceled because questions only dealt with Lori and not about the financial theme of the meeting! At this press conference, President Fujimori outrageously stated that (1) Lori had admitted her membership in MRTA and that (2) he would not give her special treatment because she is an American citizen -- that he had to treat all people the same regardless of nationality.

On July 1, Ambassador Dennis Jett in Lima refuted both of President Fujimori's statements (AP wire -- see Web site). Ambassador Jett said "She ... criticized the lack of justice in Perú, but never said she was a member of the rebel group."

Ambassador Jett then argued that, contrary to President Fujimori's statement, Lori's nationality has worked against her -- she has been treated unusually harshly by Peruvian authorities because of her nationality!

Perú Stalls for Time in Human Rights Court

On January 22, Lori's lawyers had petitioned the Inter-American Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States, arguing that Perú violated international laws in its wrongful "trial" and that her illegal incarceration is exacerbated by brutal and barbaric living conditions at Yanamayo, in violation of her human rights and international doctrine. Nearing its 90 day period for response, in April Perú requested and received an additional 90 days of time to prepare their case. On July 22, Perú told the Commission that Lori was not eligible to apply since she had not yet exhausted all internal legal remedies in Perú. This is another stall! Lori's internal remedies were officially exhausted in August 1997. Lori's lawyers are preparing a response, so the case can continue.

Perú Again Denies Lori New Trial

Apparently responding to the comments from Prime Minister Valle Riestra and requests from the U.S. government, on July 30, Perú's Supreme Court of Military Justice issued a statement saying Lori's trial had been fair and that a new, civilian trial was unfounded. A tribunal spokesman said "Due process was scrupulously observed during her trial and sentence." !!!

Andes Winter Hard on Lori's Health

This has been a very cold winter in the Andes and Lori's health continues to deteriorate. The International Red Cross has authorized that Lori be seen by Peruvian medical specialists in throat, gastroenterology, and dermatology. She is also undergoing special blood tests to monitor liver function after a lengthy digestive problem due to an enlarged liver that has now returned to normal.

International Human Rights Group Calls for Closing of Yanamayo Prison

On August 12, a three-member team from the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights was permitted to visit Yanamayo (a rarity for such visits) and recommended that it be closed because of inhumane conditions. Antonio Donate, delegate from Spain, told a news conference that "I was in the prison in the middle of the day and I had to rub my hands vigorously to keep them from freezing. ... Since the conditions fall below any minimum standard for human treatment, we have asked for it to be closed."

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson