Today marks the 129th day since American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were detained in North Korea.
On March 17, 2009, Laura Ling and and Euna Lee, two employees of San Francisco-based Current TV – a media venture founded by former Vice President Al Gore, were shooting video along the China/North Korea border for a story they were working on about the trafficking of women in the region. They were stopped by North Korean border guards and arrested immediately thereafter. Both women were transported to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, where they remained under arrest until their trial.
A verdict in their closed trial was reached on June 8, and both Laura and Euna were sentenced to 12 years of reform through labor for illegal entry and grave crimes against the North Korean state.
Since the sentencing, the families have received calls, and during the second call on July 7, Laura told her sister Lisa Ling that she and Euna did violate North Korean law and confessed to all of the charges levied against them. They expressed deep regret for their actions and asked for continued support from our country and its citizens for their amnesty.
Below are remarks by Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing today in Washington DC, stating that the U.S. calls for the journalists to be returned home as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: North Korea. Just on the journalists again, actually, I’m wondering if all this sort of war of words that’s been happening the last few days, is that affecting your efforts at all? Can you give us an update on what kind of communication, perhaps, the Swedish ambassador has had with them? And do you know about their whereabouts? Just a general kind of status report.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that there is any change. Obviously, we have made clear we would like to see the journalists returned home as quickly as possible. Our protecting power has had contact with the journalists regularly. I’m not sure it’s been recently, however.
QUESTION: But is it by phone, or can you elaborate on that? How do they —
MR. CROWLEY: I think it’s been a combination, but I don’t think there’s been contact in a few days.
QUESTION: And there – any U.S. consular access allowed whatsoever?
MR. CROWLEY: June 23rd is the last one.
QUESTION: June 23rd, and that was a phone call or a visit?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. I think —
MR. WOOD: It was a visit.
MR. CROWLEY: That was a visit, yeah.
QUESTION: A visit by the Swedish ambassador?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: And can you also tell me are the girls in a penitentiary or are they in – what kind of circumstances are they in?
MR. CROWLEY: I would be reluctant to go in any kind of detail on that.
Check out the website www.lauraandeuna.com, created by the families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, to see how you can help to secure amnesty for the two women and help bring them home.
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