October 25, 1998
U.S. woman says Peruvian jail conditions unchanged

                  AREQUIPA, Peru (Reuters) - A U.S. woman serving a life sentence on
                  charges she belonged to a Peruvian guerrilla group said Saturday her
                  conditions were no better after being transferred from a notorious guerrilla

                  Lori Berenson, in jail in Peru since 1996, dictated a statement to her visiting
                  parents in which she complained about her solitary confinement at her new
                  jail and said it was no better than the dingy, high-altitude Yanamayo prison
                  which rights groups have called sub-human.

                  "I cannot understand why I am here unless it was a move to demonstrate an
                  improvement in human rights. But then why have they thrown me in a cage
                  and isolated me from the world?" Rhoda Berenson quoted her daughter as

                  Rhoda and Mark Berenson, both university professors from New York,
                  talked to their ill daughter on their first visit since she was transferred two
                  weeks ago to the lower-lying Socabaya prison, outside the southern city of

                  She was first sent to Yanamayo after being convicted by an anonymous
                  military judge in 1996 of helping Tupac Amaru leftist rebels plan a thwarted
                  assault on Peru's Congress. She has denied being a member of the group.

                  To make her imprisonment more tolerable, the Berensons bought Chinese
                  food, her daughter's favorite meal, at a take-out shop in New York and
                  froze it for the trip.

                  "Because there are no cooking facilities, Lori will leave the food to thaw in
                  the sun of the prison courtyard and then eat it -- cold," her father said.

                  Her parents received gifts, permitted by prison rules, of a knitted sweater
                  and locally-made chocolates from their daughter.

                  Berenson is not allowed to hand out written statements during visits but her
                  parents said they were able to copy down her answers to questions formed
                  by Reuters. In an interview after the visit, they also quoted parts of their
                  hour-long conversation with their daughter about her conditions.

                  Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited