WASHINGTON — President Bush urged Peruvian President-elect Alejandro Toledo on Tuesday to take humanitarian concerns into account when deciding whether to intervene in the case of an American woman convicted of collaborating with terrorists.
In a brief meeting at the White House, Bush directly addressed the situation of 31-year-old Lori Berenson, who was sentenced last week in Peru to 20 years in prison for assisting the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. He asked Toledo that "in addition to the rule of law, humanitarian factors be taken into consideration in a final resolution of her case," according to National Security Council spokeswoman Mary Ellen Countryman.
Toledo later emphasized to reporters that Bush did not explicitly ask him to pardon Berenson after he takes office July 28.
"I'm not the [current] president," he told reporters. "The president of Peru is Dr. Valentin Paniagua, and it would be premature for me to make any assessments or any decisions."
Toledo noted that Berenson has appealed to Peru's Supreme Court, "so let's wait out the judicial process."