One of two American journalists freed last year from a North Korean prison said Wednesday that their release was thanks to an expression of condolences made by former President Bill Clinton, to North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong Il.
Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee told Ling's sister they were treated humanely in North Korea, and they believe they weren't sent to hard-labor camps because they have medical conditions, Lisa Ling said Friday.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton landed in North Korea early Tuesday on a mission to negotiate the release of two American journalists imprisoned there since March, according to the country's state news agency and a CNN source.
The United States has dropped its request that two American journalists imprisoned in North Korea be released on humanitarian grounds, and is seeking amnesty instead, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
The Swedish ambassador met with two imprisoned U.S. journalists in Pyongyang on Tuesday, a U.S. State Department spokesman said, in their first meeting since a North Korean court handed the reporters their 12-year sentence.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the United States could defend itself should North Korea launch a missile toward Hawaii and that U.S. officials are carefully monitoring the reclusive nation's military.
North Korea's state media released a "detailed report" Tuesday claiming that American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee entered the country illegally in order to record material for a "smear campaign" against the reclusive communist state.
After nearly three months of maintaining their silence, the families of two U.S. journalists detained in North Korea are taking to the airwaves this week to lobby for their release as the women go on trial Thursday.
Observers have been barred from a trial for two American journalists who were detained while covering the plight of North Korean defectors living along the China-North Korea border, a U.S. State Department spokesman said.
A journalist in Iran and two others in North Korea represent a tiny percentage of journalists worldwide who have been arrested for their work, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an advocacy group.