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US journalists 'charged with spying'

TWO journalists detained by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since last week appear to have been charged with espionage, the United States government has said.

"We're certainly aware of the charges," said State Department spokesman Robert Wood, asked to comment on media reports that the pair had been charged with spying.

The US, which does not have a diplomatic presence in the DPRK, is trying to resolve the case of the two American journalists who were arrested by guards at the border with China last week.

The two, identified as Euna Lee and Laura Ling, have been moved to the capital Pyongyang and are being interrogated there, a Republic of Korea newspaper said, quoting intelligence sources.

Their arrest came at a time of mounting tension on the peninsula, with the DPRK accusing the US and the ROK of aggressive behavior while Pyongyang continued preparations to launch a long-range missile.

"We understand the two female reporters are staying at a guest house in the suburb of Pyongyang overseen by the Security Command and are being interrogated," the ROK newspaper JoongAng Ilbo said.

The two were arrested before dawn on March 17 and driven in separate cars the next day to Pyongyang.

The women, who media sources said were working for US-based online news company Current TV, probably crossed the river and were on the DPRK side at a point where the current narrowed in a secluded part of the river, the newspaper said.

An American cameraman, Mitch Koss, and a Chinese guide who was with the three were detained by Chinese police, media said.

"The male American citizen involved in the case has left China," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters on Tuesday.


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