North Korea Sentences American Reporters to 12 Years Hard Labor
Laura Ling, the sister of former The View co-host Lisa Ling, and fellow Current TV journalist Euna Lee have been sentenced to twelve years in a labor camp by a North Korean court for crossing that country's border.
Calling it a "grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing," the Central Court of North Korea convicted and sentenced the two reporters in a trial that began last Thursday. The U.S. State Department said that outside observers were not allowed to witness the trial's proceedings.
Friends and family of Ling and Lee insist that their border crossing was accidental and have been publicly pleading with the North Koreans for mercy in recent days. Reports CNN:
"When the girls left the United States, they never intended to cross into North Korean soil. And if they did at any point, we apologize," Lisa Ling, Laura Ling's sister, said on "Anderson Cooper 360" on Wednesday.
"And we know that they are very, very sorry. And we ask that you show mercy today," added Lisa Ling, a special correspondent for CNN.
Despite the limited communication, the families say they've heard enough to know the women are "terrified" and "extremely scared."
Current TV employees, including company Chairman Al Gore, had been ordered by their legal team to remain quiet about the situation with Ling and Lee, a stance that they held fast to both individually and as a company, despite some public outcry.
Obviously, this whole thing is a situation fraught with horrendous peril, not only for Ling and Lee, but for the United States in general. One can't escape the feeling that the convictions of Ling and Lee are less about North Korean law and more just another example of provocation by a renegade country led by a mad man. What Kim Jong Il and North Korea hope to gain by this situation is anyone's guess, but one can only imagine what sort of horrors take place inside a North Korean labor camp, and we certainly feel that it's time for the former two-term vice president of the United States to break his silence and start throwing his weight around to crack some serious skulls if he has to in order to get Ling and Lee freed. The Current TV strategy of silence has not worked up to this point and will only continue to reflect poorly on them and Gore going forward.
In the meantime, our thoughts are with Laura Ling and Euna Lee and their traumatized families.