June 08, 2009
Journalists Ling and Lee Get 12 Years Hard Labor
(Seoul, South Korea) Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp for illegally crossing the border into North Korea.
The "trial confirmed the grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing," the Korean Central News Agency said.The sentences come on the heels of candlelight vigils held in Washington and seven other U.S. cities by friends and family asking for clemency. Ling and Lee are both in their thirties and married. Euna Lee has a four-year-old daughter.
It said the court, after a five-day trial, "sentenced each of them to 12 years of reform through labour."
The sentences "are tougher than expected," said Yoo Ho-Yeol, a professor and North Korea expert at Korea University.North Korea's status with Washington is already strained due to its recent nuke tests and missile shots. This latest incident will likely just add to the tension.
"They aim to send a strong message to the United States that the North is taking the case very seriously and gravely."