Paroled activist Lori Berenson arrives in U.S.

Lori Berenson arrives from Lima, Peru with her son Salvador Apari at Newark Liberty International Airport, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. Berenson, who was convicted of aiding Peruvian guerrillas and served 15 years before she was paroled last year, said she fully intended to return to Peru by the court-ordered deadline of Jan. 11. AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams

Last Updated 8:25 a.m. ET

NEWARK, N.J. — Paroled American Lori Berenson, who stirred international controversy when she was convicted of aiding Peruvian guerrillas, arrived in the United States Tuesday morning for her first visit home since Peruvian authorities arrested her in 1995.

Berenson's plane touched down at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey around 7:35 a.m. The 42-year-old was greeted by two customs officers who escorted her to somewhere other than the usual passport checking area.

Berenson's mother, Rhoda Berenson, was waiting expectantly for her daughter in the international arrivals area of the airport.

"We are looking forward to the first holiday at home in a long, long time and many relatives who haven't met Salvador are excited to see him," she said, speaking of her 2-year-old grandson. "This is not a political time; this is a time for family, friends and holidays."

She said said they were heading to New York for the holidays.

Lori Berenson headed to U.S. for parole visit
Lori Berenson barred from leaving Peru

Lori Berenson boarded a Continental Airlines flight at Lima's main airport late Monday under intense media scrutiny, as many in Peru wonder whether she will return to the country by the court-ordered deadline of Jan. 11.

Wearing a black turtleneck, black jeans and designer eyeglasses, Berenson told an Associated Press reporter while waiting for her flight that she intended to return to Peru. Berenson was accompanied by a U.S. Embassy employee.

"I just hope we don't get caught in a snow storm," she said, joking that such an occurrence in the U.S. would delay her return.

Berenson's departure capped three days of confusion after Peruvian authorities had prevented her from boarding a flight to New York on Friday despite a court approval allowing her to leave.

The authorities said Berenson, who had served 15 years on an accomplice to terrorism conviction before her parole last year, lacked an additional document.

Peruvian migration officials finally gave Berenson another document Monday clearing her to leave the country with her son to spend the holidays with her family in New York City.

Her father, Mark Berenson, said Monday that he was anxious to see her return.

"I'm just glad that they finally resolved the thing," he told the AP by phone from New York.

Lori Berenson admitted helping the Tupac Amaru rebel group rent a safe house where authorities seized a cache of weapons after a shootout with the rebels. She insists she didn't know guns were stored there and says she never joined the group.

In 1996, a military court of hooded judges convicted Berenson of treason and sentenced her to life in prison. After U.S. pressure, she was retried by a civilian court.

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