Press Release on the Sentencing of Lori Berenson

12 January, 1996

Ramsey Clark 36 East 12th Street New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (212) 475-3232 Fax: (212) 979-1583 e-mail:
For Further Information Contact: Bob Schwartz

New York Family Condemns Daughter's Lawless Treason Conviction in Peru

The family of Lori Berenson is angered and upset to learn that the government of Peru, acting through a faceless, secret military tribunal, has pronounced Lori guilty of treason against Peru and sentenced her to life imprisonment.

"This is outrageous! Lori is a pacifist, opposed to every form of violence, and has devoted her young life to helping the poor and oppressed. She would never hurt anyone," said Mark Berenson, father of Lori Berenson , who was seized six weeks ago by Peruvian security forces while riding on a public bus.

Rhoda Berenson, Lori's mother, said "Lori is innocent of these charges. Although a variety of preposterous allegations were made over the past six weeks, the government of Peru has never demonstrated any evidence to support a charge of treason. They apparently want to use our daughter to frighten human rights activists and foreign journalists out of Peru."

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, an attorney assisting the Berenson family said, "Peru continues its massive abuses of human rights and complete denial of due process of law. This time it is a 26 year old U.S. citizen."

Lori Berenson has been held virtually incommunicado, subjected to exhausting interrogation, night and day, psychological violence and deception to break her will. They have failed. In the degrading forced appearance before the press at the very time a military judge considered secret charges against her, and without a lawyer, family, or friends present, Lori Berenson said 'I am to be condemned for my concern about the conditions of hunger and misery which exist in this country ... Yo amo este pueblo (I love this people).'

"Rather than present evidence, if it has any, to a civilian constitutional court in a public trial with rights to counsel, to remain silent, to cross-examine witnesses and to present evidence in her own defense, the Peruvian government has used masked military officers in a secret proceeding to silence the truth and condemn the innocent. A political decision was made to give an American the maximum sentence though there was no claim she committed a violent act, or intended to, or even visited Peru until recently. Everyone who cares about fairness, justice, and human rights should protest immediately to Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, the United Nations, the State Department, President Clinton and the U.S. Congress.

The Berenson family would like to take this opportunity to release the full text of Lori Berenson's courageous and compassionate remarks to the media while in chains and after 39 days of isolation and relentless interrogation in Lima, Peru on January 8, 1996:

"I am to be condemned for my concern about the conditions of hunger and misery which exists in this country. Here nobody can deny that in Peru there is much injustice. There is an institutionalized violence that has killed the people's best sons and has condemned children to die of hunger. If it is a crime to worry about the subhuman conditions in which the majority of this population lives, then I will accept my punishment. But this is not a love of violence. This is not to be a criminal terrorist because in the MRTA there are no criminal terrorists. It is a revolutionary movement."

"I love this people. I love this people and although this love is going to make -- cost -- me years in prison, I will never stop loving, and never will lose the hope and confidence that there will be a new day of justice in Peru."

Suggested Action:
  1. Contact the White House: phone: (202) 456-1414; e-mail:; President Bill Clinton, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. 20500
  2. Contact Assistant Secretary of State Alexander Watson: phone: (202) 647-5780; fax: (202) 647-0791; Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington D.C. 22052
  3. Contact Congressional Representative: phone: (202) 224-3121

    address: Honorable Senator_____________,
    United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510

    address: Honorable Representative ______________,
    United States House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515

  4. Write or telegram Peruvian President:
    President Alberto Fujimori,
    Palacio Gobierno,
    Lima, Peru
  5. Write United Nations Secretary General,
    His Excellency Boutros Boutros-Ghali,
    United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY 10017