Freed Journalists Fresno Connection

August 6, 2009 1:10:24 AM PDT
The nightmare is over for the two American journalists held captive in North Korea.Euna Lee and Laura Ling touched down in Los Angeles Wednesday morning. Among those anxiously waiting in the crowd ... a Fresno couple ... Euna Lee's mother and father-in-law.

As Euna Lee and Laura Ling emerged from the plane, there was tremendous excitement, but also relief. After five months in captivity in North Korea ... the bay area journalists were home.

Lee's four year old daughter, Hanna, and husband Michael Saldate hugged Lee tight. Her husband's parents ... Frank and Karen Saldate patiently waited their turn.

The Saldate's drove down from West Central Fresno to meet the plane. Both journalists were grateful to be home.

"It feels so good. Thank you so much for your support," said Lee.

Just a day earlier the journalists were prisoners in North Korea ... condemned to 12 years of hard labor.

Ling said, "Suddenly we were told we were going to a meeting. When we walked through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton. We were shocked ... but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end."

With his mission accomplished ... President Clinton met with the relieved families including the Saldates, but deferred to former Vice President Al Gore ... who founded "Current TV" where the women work.

Al Gore said, "Your families have been unbelievable, unbelievable. Euna, Hannah's been a great girl while you were gone. And Laura, your mom's been making your special soup for two days now."

The women spent the remainder of the day with their families ... after enduring meals made of rice with rocks while in the North Korean prison ... they look forward to eating real food.

Laura's sister Lisa Ling said, "I know that there will be a sushi dinner at some point really soon."

The journalists gave few details of their ordeal ... but U.S. officials will certainly be interested in hearing their story.

And as for Frank and Karen Saldate, they're back in Fresno and are getting a good night's sleep for the first time in a long time.

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