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Sentence Against US Journalists in North Korea is Inhumane and Unjust, Says IFJ

June 10, 2009

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called for the immediate release of the two United States journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who have been jailed by North Korea. This is a case of "inhumanity and injustice" that will outrage journalists around the world, says the IFJ.

North Korea′s state-run media agency KNCA announced on June 8 that the Central Court of the Democratic People′s Republic of Korea had convicted Lee and Ling of committing "hostile acts" and illegally entering the country, issuing a sentence of 12 years′ hard labour to both women.

Held behind closed doors, the trial began on Thursday June 4 in North Korea′s highest court. There is no opportunity to file an appeal.

"These two journalists are victims of a regime ruthlessly engaged on a political mission," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"They are being used as political pawns and are suffering intolerable injustice and inhumanity. They should be released immediately and the charges against them set aside."

Border guards detained Lee and Ling on March 17 near the Tumen River on the border with China. The journalists were on assignment in China for the California-based online Current TV channel to report on North Korean refugees in China.

A Current TV producer and local driver were accompanying the women but were reportedly not detained.

Lee and Ling′s families denied claims the journalists had planned to enter North Korea clandestinely, saying if they had crossed an international border, it was an honest mistake.

US-based press freedom organisation the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on all countries in the six-party talks on North Korea′s nuclear program - North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US - to leverage international pressure on North Korea to repeal the sentence and release the journalists. .

"There is no justification for this action, which is punitive, disproportionate and abusive of the rights of all journalists," White said.

"North Korea should respond immediately to the global concerns of journalists and set our colleagues free."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide

For more information contact:
IFJ Asia-Pacific
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: +612 9333 0919

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