By Ariel Lin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
Pyongyang, North Korea – Two detained US reporters last month will face trial in North Korean. North Korean government will charge Euna Lee and Laura Ling for illegal entry and “hostile acts”, the country’s state-run news agency says. The two reporters were working on a story about North Koreans who flee the closed country to make a better living in China.
“The illegal entry of US reporters into the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. The KCNA is preparing for indictments and a trial. It is also being reported that two reporters will be allowed consular access and will be treated in accordance with international law.
US government continues to work on this matter through diplomatic channels, according to an unnamed senior White House official. “We have seen the brief North Korean press report (on the trial), and we have no higher priority than the protection of American citizens abroad”, the official says.
The detentions come in the middle of growing tension in the region as North Korea launched its satellite. The North Korean government insists that the rocket is designed to put a communications satellite into orbit. However, the international community believes it may be a test of a far-ranging military missile. Some reports say that Laura Ling and Euna Lee’s fate may depend on missile launch diplomacy between North Korea and US.
The use of the language “hostile acts” in the North Korea’ statements statement could means espionage. Espionage convictions come with severe penalties, such as five to 10 years, or longer, in prison.
For more information, please see:
BBC – US reporters face N Korea trial – 31 March 2009
Bloomberg – North Korea Prepares to Indict U.S. Reporters Held at Border – 30 March 2009
CNN – Report: North Korea planning to put American reporters on trial – 31 March 2009
People – Fate of Lisa Ling’s Sister Linked to Missile Launch Diplomacy – 03 April 2009
Wall Street Journal – Arrest of U.S. Reporters Adds to the Tension – 06 April 2009