A North Korean court has just sentenced two American journalists to 12 years in prison for illegal entry. The two journalists are with California-based Current TV. Laura Ling is the sister of the former co-hostess of The View, Lisa Ling.

On March 30, 2009 North Korea announced through its government news agency that Laura Ling and Euna Lee will be indicted for illegal entry and will stand trial in North Korean court. The two were filming a documentary regarding North Korean refugees at the time of their arrest. “The illegal entry of U.S. reporters into the DPRK and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements,” the North Korean report said.

The trial for Laura Ling and Euna Lee began at 3 pm on June 4. However, all foreign observers were banned from the proceedings, so there have been no reports regarding the treatment of the two women.

On June 7, North Korean officials announced that Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean labor camp.


August 4 update
: Bill Clinton met with Kim Jong Il and secured a pardon for the two journalists. It appears they will be freed shortly from North Korean custody.

laura ling

Laura Ling

Euna Lee

Euna Lee

The two journalists were in an area near the Tumen River where North Korean refugees frequently cross into China to flee the poverty and oppression of North Korea.

As reported by the South Korean news agency Yonhap News, the two journalists were detained by North Korean soldiers as they were filming near the border for a television show. Reportedly, the journalists refused to follow the soldiers’ orders to stop filming the North Korean side of the border. A guide assisting the journalists was also taken into custody by the North Koreans.

Reportedly, American officials are working with the Chinese government to obtain the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee. The United States has no official diplomatic ties to North Korea.

The arrests come at a time when tensions between the United States and North Korea are especially high. North Korea has stated recently that it will shoot its first satellite into space later this year, as reported here. A satellite launch by North Korea could lead to an arms race with neighbors South Korea and Japan. U.S. military officials have warned that a successful satellite launch could mean that North Korea could develop a long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

Laura Ling is 32-years-old and a native of the San Francisco Bay area. She was born and raised in Carmichael, California.

March 30, 2009 Update: North Korea announced through its government news agency that Laura Ling and Euna Lee will be indicted for illegal entry and will stand trial in North Korean court. “The illegal entry of U.S. reporters into the DPRK and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements,” the report said. The two have now been held for two weeks.

April 24 Update:
North Korean officials confirmed today that Laura Ling and Euna Lee will stand trial for “hostile acts” against North Korea, though no trial date was announced.

The trial for Laura Ling and Euna Lee began at 3 pm on June 4. However, all foreign observers have been banned from the proceedings, so there have been no reports regarding the treatment of the two women.

June 7 update
: North Korean officials announced that Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been sentenced to 12 years in a prison labor camp.

August 4 update
: Bill Clinton met with Kim Jong Il and secured a pardon for the two journalists. It appears they will be freed shortly from North Korean custody.