NORTH KOREA: Bill Clinton heading for Pyongyang over US journalists

The former U.S. president travels to North Korea to negotiate the release of two American journalists sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for illegal entry and intention to slander

The Korea Times
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is heading for Pyongyang to negotiate the release of two American journalists detained by the communist North Korea, news reports said on Tuesday.

Clinton had already left for the North but has not yet arrived in Pyongyang, the Associated Press quoted Yonhap as saying in a report from Washington.

"As soon as he arrives, he will be entering negotiations with the North for the release of the female journalists," the AP said.

South Korean Foreign Ministry officials declined to comment, saying any announcement would come from Washington or Pyongyang.

The journalists were sentenced last month to 12 years' hard labor by the North after they were arrested at the border with China in March, accused of illegal entry and being "bent on slander."

The journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, of U.S. media outlet Current TV co-founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, were arrested when working on a story near the border between North Korea and China.

Ling has told her sister by telephone that she and Lee broke North Korea's law. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, has urged Pyongyang to grant them amnesty.