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Ling and Lee Sentenced to 12 Years in North Korean Labor Camp

By KJ Mullins     Jun 8, 2009 in Politics
Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two American reporters, were sentenced by the highest court in North Korea Monday to 12 years in a labor camp.
The two women were on trial from June 4 to 8 behind closed doors.
The women were arrested on March 17 when according to North Korea they accidentally stepped over the border of North Korea while filming a report. They had been working for California-based Current TV, an online service set up by Al Gore at the time they were captured.
Ling and Lee were working on a story about North Korean refugees who fled their home in search of food in China when they were seized by the guards.
There is speculation that the women were grabbed by border guards who went into China.
Reuters reports:
"The trial confirmed the grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing as they had already been indicted and sentenced each of them to 12 years of reform through labor," the official KCNA news agency said in a brief dispatch.
The announcement of the reporters sentencing comes just one day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that Washington was looking into putting the communist country back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Their families have appealed for clemency. They asked both Washington and Pyongyang not to use the reporters as bargaining chips in the nuclear arms stand off between the two nations.
The labor camps in North Korea are notorious for their cruelty.
CNN reports:
"People are starved to death, worked to death, frozen to death over a period of time, and it's just absolutely horrific, reminiscent of what we've read coming out of the old Gulags under Stalin," says Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback.
Food is rationed only to above the starving level. Prisoners are said to fight over the scraps of food and clothing from prisoners who have died.
Those who are caught attempting to escape are killed.
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