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American Accused Of Terrorism Freed From Prison, Leaves Peru

August 24, 1988

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ An American accused of helping leftist guerrillas mount a terrorist attack left Peru after spending nearly five months in prison.

Cynthia McNamara, 40, a native of Philadelphia, flew out of Lima on Tuesday for Shannon, Ireland, after being freed from prison. The U.S. Embassy issued a statement expressing approval that she was released.

On April 26, a Lima court cleared her of charges she took part in an attack by Maoist Shining Path guerrillas that left two people dead. She was rearrested on the same charges Aug. 2 and was held in prison until Monday night.

Her departure followed a tense hour at Lima’s international airport during which the embassy sent word that Peru was refusing to allow her to travel anywhere but to the United States, her lawyers said.

One of her attorneys, Jose Burneo, said the embassy and former Mayor Alfonso Barrantes of Lima made phone calls to Peruvian officials ″at the highest levels″ to gain approval for her departure.

About 20 friends and reporters witnessed her departure at 5:15 p.m. aboard a Soviet Aeroflot flight. ″My name is cleared. I feel relieved,″ she said.

Ms. McNamara was first arrested Dec. 5 in Ayacucho state, 225 miles southeast of Lima, while she was on a trip through Peru and Chile as a tourist.

She was charged with taking part in a guerrilla attack in August 1987 in Vilcashuaman in Ayacucho in which two government employees were slain.

Ms. McNamara was released from prison in April after the Lima court cleared her of the charges. Her attorneys and the U.S. Embassy said two survivors of the attack in Vilcashuaman testified she was not among the assailants. Other witnesses said she was in Puquio, 90 miles south of Vilcashuaman, when the attack occurred.

Lima Superior Court upheld the ruling on July 13 and Ms. McNamara began making arrangements to leave Peru. She was rearrested on an outstanding warrant stemming from the Vilcashuaman attack when she appeared at a Lima police station on Aug. 2 to get approval to depart.

She spent the next three weeks in prison as her attorneys fought to prevent her transfer to Cangallo, the province in Ayacucho state where Vilcashuaman is located. Her release came after an Ayacucho court ruled Monday that she could not be tried twice for the same crime, Burneo said.

Ms. McNamara said she would go to London and meet friends before seeking a job teaching English ″somewhere in Europe.″ She reiterated her innocence to reporters Tuesday. She has frequently disavowed any ties with the Shining Path.