Friday, June 5, 2009

US Journalists Held in Nth Korea

From the Guardian:
Two American journalists were expected to go on trial in North Korea today facing charges of committing "hostile acts" for which they could spend up to 10 years in one of the country's notorious labour camps.

Euna Lee and Laura Ling were arrested on 17 March after allegedly crossing the border from China into North Korea while filming a report about refugees.

The women, described by their families as "very, very scared," find themselves caught up in a potentially volatile power struggle as the UN and Washington decide how to respond to North Korea's nuclear weapons test last week.

Observers believe the increasingly provocative regime is using the women to secure the best possible terms ahead of possible negotiations over its nuclear weapons programme.

The women have spent four months in solitary confinement and have been permitted only one visitor, the Swedish ambassador, Mats Foyer, who has been liaising with them on behalf of Washington, which does not have diplomatic ties with North Korea.

Bob Dietz of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement: "We urge that their fate not be linked to the ongoing security situation on the Korean Peninsula. Euna Lee and Laura Ling were acting as journalists, not criminals, and should be released."

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