North Korea Finds U.S. Journalists Guilty

    June 8, 2009

North Korea on Monday found two American journalists guilty of illegal entry and sentenced them each to 12 years of hard labor.

The Central Court, the North’s highest court, held the trial of the two U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, from Thursday to Monday and convicted them of "committing hostilities against the Korean nation and illegal entry," the North’s official news agency, KCNA reported.

Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee were arrested by North Korean soldiers patrolling the border between China and North Korea on March 17.

US Reporters

"We are deeply concerned by the reported sentencing of the two American citizen journalists by North Korean authorities and we are engaged through all possible channels to secure their release," Ian C. Kelly, a State Department spokesman, said in statement. "We once again urge North Korea to grant the immediate release of the two American citizen journalists on humanitarian grounds."

Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee, were on reporting assignment for San Francisco- based Current TV, a media company co-founded by former vice president Al Gore. The pair was researching a story about North Korean refugees fleeing the country in hopes of finding food in China.

The sentenced cannot be appealed and analysts say the journalists are being used as pawns by North Korea.

Reporters Without Borders expressed shock over the sentence. "The sentence of twelve years is a terrible shock for all those who have repeatedly proclaiming the innocence of Laura Ling and Lee Euna. The verdict is even beyond what we feared. It is urgent that the Pyongyang authorities to return to this decision and allow the two to find their American family, "the organization said.