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N. Korea to Try 2 Detained US Journalists

Posted April. 25, 2009 05:56,   


North Korea yesterday said it will put on trial two American journalists whom Pyongyang took into custody March 17.

The North`s Korea Central News Agency said, “Authorities have concluded the probe of two female American journalists, and have decided to put them on trial based on confirmed criminal data.”

Chinese American Laura Ling and Korean American Euna Lee, both of whom work for Current TV of the United States, were arrested while gathering news on North Korean defectors at the North Korea-Chinese border area. They will stand trial in a North Korean court on the 37th day after their arrest.

The North announced neither details of its probe of the journalists nor the charges they face. Announcing its plan to indict them March 31, Pyongyang said, “The two were confirmed to have entered our country illegally and acted hostile.”

Article 46 of the North’s immigration law says foreigners who enter illegally will face criminal charges. In addition, North Korean criminal law allows punishment of foreigners conducting spy activities and hostile behavior toward North Koreans under provisions on spying in Article 63 and the crime of anti-Korean behavior in Article 69.

The North uses a two-tiered trial system. Hence, the two journalists will likely stand trial first at a provincial or municipal court and later at a higher court.

Experts on North Korea’s legal system predicted the process will take more than two months. There is a chance, however, that Ling and Lee could be released during their trial if the North and the United States reach a compromise.