Today North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il issued a special pardon and ordered the release of imprisoned American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee. The pardon was issued following talks between Kim Jong-il and former President Bill Clinton.
The two women, both television reporters working for Current TV were detained in March along the border of North Korea and China. In June they were both sentenced to 12 years of hard labor.
News of Ling and Lee’s release reached the United States at 3:00 pm EST. Their families immediately released the following statement.
“The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee are overjoyed by the news of their pardon. We are so grateful to our government: President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the U.S. State Department for their dedication to and hard work on behalf of American citizens.”
“We especially want to thank President Bill Clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and Vice President Al Gore for his tireless efforts to bring Laura and Euna home. We must also thank all the people who have supported our families through this ordeal, it has meant the world to us. We are counting the seconds to hold Laura and Euna in our arms.”
A report from Seoul stated that the two women were pardoned after “Clinton expressed words of sincere apology to Kim Jong Il for the hostile acts committed by the two American journalists against the DPRK after illegally intruding into it. ” He also “courteously conveyed to Kim Jong Il an earnest request of the U.S. government to leniently pardon them and send them back home from a humanitarian point of view.”