North Korea - Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists

    MONTREAL, June 3 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders urges the North
Korean judicial authorities to be lenient with the two American journalists,
Euna Lee and Laura Ling, whose trial is scheduled to begin in Pyongyang.
    Lee and Ling, who work for California-based Current TV, have been held
since 17 March and face sentences of up to 10 years in prison with forced
labour on charges of entering North Korea illegally and "hostile activities."
In fact they were just trying to cover the trafficking of North Korean women
across the border between North Korea and China.
    "We appeal to the North Korean judicial authorities to show the utmost
clemency and we hope the trial will result in the acquittal and release of the
two American journalists," Reporters Without Borders said. "We urge the judges
trying the case to follow the example set by their Iranian counterparts, who
released US journalist Roxana Saberi last month."
    The press freedom organisation added: "If these two TV reporters made a
'mistake' by getting to close to the North Korean border, they did so solely
for journalistic purposes and not for political reasons or for the purposes of
    Reporters Without Borders backs the many demonstrations in support of Lee
and Ling that are being organised today by relatives, friends and fellow
journalists in Washington, New York, Chicago, Birmingham, Portland, San
Francisco and Los Angeles.
    Lee and Ling, who are both married, were allowed to speak with their
families by telephone last week. "We had not heard their voices in over two
and a half months," Ling's sister Lisa said. "They are very scared, they are
very, very scared." Lee is the mother of a four-year-old girl.
    In a letter to her sister, Ling wrote: "I try very hard to think about
positive things, but sometimes it is hard to."
    Reporters Without Borders and the International Women's Media Foundation
today handed in a petition at the North Korean Permanent Mission to the United
Nations in New York calling for the immediate release of Lee and Ling. It was
signed by more than 1,800 journalists, bloggers and free speech activists.
    The Swedish ambassador to Pyongyang, Mats Foyer, who represents US
interests in North Korea, met with the two journalists on 1 June for the third
time since their arrest.
    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the charges brought
against them are "baseless."
    Ling (who is of Chinese origin) and Lee (who is of Korean origin) had
travelled to the North Korean border from inside China as part of their
reporting on the trafficking of North Korean women, and were arrested there by
North Korean border guards.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)

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