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N. Korea to Try 2 Detained US Journalists June 4

Posted May. 15, 2009 08:02,   


North Korea yesterday said it will put on trial June 4 two American journalists whom the North detained March 17.

In a short report, the North`s state-run Korea Central News said, “The Democratic People`s Republic of Korea`s Central Court decided to try the two U.S. journalists June 4 since they are under indictment.”

Korean American Euna Lee and Chinese American Laura Ling, who work for the San Francisco-based Current TV, will go to court 79 days after being detained March 17. The two were reporting on North Korean escapees near the North`s border with China.

Given the North`s report that the Central Court will try the two journalists, they are expected to face a single trial on charges of illegal entry and hostile acts against the North. Sentencing could come on the day of trial or a few days later.

In South Korea, Choi Eun-seok, a professor at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Masan, South Gyeongsang Province, said, “North Korea has a double-trial system but the Central Court could also hold a single trial."

"The court should finish the trial within 25 days after indictment. That means the verdict could come the day of the trial or as late as June 7.”

The U.S-based Radio Free Asia said yesterday that the families of the two detained journalists visited the U.S. State Department in Washington to discuss Lee and Ling`s safety.

Shortly after the two were detained, Washington began working for their release through the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang. Since March 30, however, the North has prevented Swedish diplomats from meeting the two detainees.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia yesterday, Larry Niksch, a specialist in Asian Affairs at the U.S. Congressional Research Service, mentioned Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who was sentenced to eight years in prison but released Monday since she was granted a stay of execution after three months in prison.

Niksch said North Korea will probably force Lee and Ling to plead guilty to the charges and then release them.