Imprisoned American journalists in North Korea pardoned, to return to US

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Two imprisoned American journalists in North Korea, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, have been pardoned and are to return to the U.S.. This comes after former U.S. President Bill Clinton met with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and the two journalists earlier today.

"Kim Jong-il issued an order of the chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission on granting a special pardon to the two American journalists who had been sentenced to hard labor in accordance with Article 103 of the Socialist Constitution and releasing them," said the KCNA news agency as reported by Reuters.

Clinton traveled to the nation for a "private meeting" with North Korean officials to discuss the detention and possible release of Ling and Lee. ABC News earlier stated that the meeting between Clinton and the journalists was "very emotional", and that the U.S. was "hopeful" that Ling and Lee would be released. Ling and Lee left on Clinton's plane, and landed safely in Japan Wednesday. They are expected to reach Los Angeles shortly.

Ling and Lee are journalists for Current TV based in California. Lee is the editor of the news for Current TV and Ling is one of the agency's reporters. They were said to have been shooting a video of the border region of China and N. Korea when they were arrested at the Tumen River in late March after allegedly crossing into North Korea from China illegally. They were both convicted in June of possible hostile acts against North Korea, entering the country illegally and were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in a labor camp.