Current TV reporters sentenced to 12 years

June 8, 2009 11:42:55 AM PDT
Bay-area based, Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been sentenced to 12 years at a labor camp after a North Korean court convicted them of entering the country, illegally. Ling is the sister of Journalist, Lisa Ling...and their father, Doug ... says he is waiting for word about Laura before speaking about the family's ordeal.

Twelve years in a labor camp for what the North Korean court calls a grave crime. The two American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee allegedly crossed the Chinese border into North Korea last March while covering a story on the human trafficking of North Korean refugees there. Family and friends of the "Current TV" reporters are in shock, are calling for help.

Holly Gibson Colleague of Euna Lee said, "We've been emailing, getting on Facebook, getting on Twitter, we're going to follow the lead of the families."

Lisa Ling Sister of Laura Ling said, "The details of what happened that day that Laura and Euna were arrested are vague, but I will say with absolute certainty that when they left U.S. soil they never intended to cross the border into North Korea. And if at any point they did we are truly sorry."

The White House says the President is deeply concerned and the government is engaged through all possible channels to secure their releases.

There are even speculative reports that former Vice President Al Gore, who owns Current TV, might fly to Pyongyang to ask for leniency.

But North Korea watchers in Seoul say the two women will be used as bargaining chips to bolster what they really want: Recognition.

The nation's Dictator, Kim Jong Il, has flexed his muscles with recent nuclear and missile tests, and the conviction of the journalists is seen as the latest example. They await a humanitarian appeal by the United States, and then, the North Korean leader is expected to step in and grant them early release, showing the world that he is in control and no one else.

For that to work though, many here say that North Korea will demand a higher-level official from the Obama administration as a counterpart to cut a deal-- plus an official letter of apology.


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