Related News

Home » World

DPRK starts hearing against US journalists

THE top court of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea yesterday began hearing the case of two American journalists accused of crossing into the country illegally and engaging in "hostile acts" - charges that could draw a 10-year sentence in a labor camp.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters for former United States Vice President Al Gore's Current TV, were arrested on March 17 near the North Korean border while on a reporting trip.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch earlier yesterday the trial would begin at 3pm. Hours later, there was no word on the status of the proceedings.

The trial began at a time of mounting tensions on the Korean peninsula following North Korea's May 25 nuclear test.

Back home, the reporters' families pleaded for clemency.

"All we can do is hope the North Korean government will show leniency," Ling's sister, TV journalist Lisa Ling, said in an emotional plea at a California vigil on Wednesday night. "If at any point they committed a transgression, then our families are deeply, deeply sorry. We know the girls are sorry as well."

She urged Washington and Pyongyang not to let politics dictate the reporters' fate.

"Tensions are so heated, and the girls are essentially in the midst of this nuclear standoff," she said on CNN's "Larry King Live." She urged the governments to "try to communicate, to try and bring our situation to a resolution on humanitarian grounds - to separate the issues."

State-run media have not defined the exact charges against them, but Republic of Korea legal experts said conviction for "hostility" or espionage could mean five to 10 years in a labor camp. A ruling by the top court would be final.

The circumstances of their arrest were hazy. The Current TV team had gone to the Chinese border city of Yanji to report on the trafficking of North Korean women, Lisa Ling said. They were seized somewhere near the frozen Tumen River dividing North Korea and China while a cameraman and their guide managed to evade the North Korean guards.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend