Euna Lee & Laura Ling face up to 10 years in labour camps
While Roxana Saberi’s imprisonment by the Iranians has attracted widespread international attention, fellow U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, detained in North Korea, have been less visible cases. The Wall Street Journal reports things appear to be getting worse for them:
Under international criminal law, defendants have the right to access diplomatic officers of their own state. But American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, detained for nearly two months, haven’t been allowed contact with Western officials since March 30. A South Korean man known only by his surname, Yu, also has been kept from any contact with officials from his country, according to the South’s Unification Ministry.
The Journal contextualizes the Lee/Ling detention within a pattern of recent belligerence from the North after the illness of dictator Kim Jong-Il. Below is a copy of the statement from Reporters Without Borders demanding Lee and Ling’s release.
Reporters Without Borders urges the North Korean authorities not to go ahead with their announced intention to try two American journalists of Asian origin, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, on charges of entering the country illegally and carrying out “hostile” activities.
The two journalists, who work for San Francisco-based online television station Current TV, were arrested by the North Korean authorities on 17 March after travelling through northern China to the North Korean border to do a story on trafficking in North Korean women. According to an email which one of them sent to a Reporters Without Borders contact, they wanted to investigate the networks organising the smuggling of women out of North Korea and their sale in China.
The state-owned North Korean news agency KCNA announced on 30 March that they have been charged with “illegal” entry. “The illegal entry of US reporters into the DPRK [North Korea] and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements,” the news agency said. If convicted, they could be sentenced to between five and 10 years of forced labour.
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