American Convicted in Peru

Prosecutors say Berenson posed as a journalist to enter Peru's legislature several times in 1995 to gather information. She was accompanied by Cerpa's wife, who acted as her photographer. Berenson, who was accredited by two left-leaning U.S. magazines but never published, insists she was researching articles about women and poverty. Berenson and Cerpa's wife were arrested hours before a military assault on a rebel safehouse that left three rebels and one police officer dead. Police say rebels had moved into the top floor of the house, where they were creating a plan to seize Congress and hold the members hostage in exchange for imprisoned comrades. Berenson moved out of the house three months before her arrest and said she knew nothing about activities on the top floor of the house, where police discovered 8,000 rounds of ammunition and dynamite. Other evidence allegedly seized from the house included a coded floor plan of Congress allegedly scrawled by Berenson. There was also a forged Peruvian election ID card bearing her photo. She suggested they were planted by police. The MRTA is named for an Inca ruler who led an Indian revolt against the Spanish colonists in the 1730s. The group is blamed for the deaths of some 200 people since it took up arms in 1984.

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