Reporters Without Borders condemns the North Korean government’s decision to charge and try the two American reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were arrested at the Chinese border on 17 March. They are accused of entering the country illegally, spying and “hostile activities,” but in reality they were just trying to report the fate of North Korean refugees at the border.
“We deplore the way the authorities are treating these two women as criminals when in fact they were just doing their job as journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “There is every reason to fear that North Korea’s opaque judicial system will not give them due process. But we hope the country’s leaders will heed the many calls for their release.”
North Korea’s official KCNA news agency announced in a brief dispatch today: “A competent organ of the DPRK (North Korea) concluded the investigation into the journalists of the United States. The organ formally decided to refer them to a trial on the basis of the confirmed crimes committed by them.”
If found guilty, Ling and Lee face up to 10 years of forced labour. Article 63 of the penal code regarding “crimes” against North Korea provides for jail terms of five to ten years for foreigners gathering information inside the country. They work for the San Francisco-based online television station Current TV.
Around 1,500 journalists and bloggers have already signed a petition in support of Ling and Lee that was launched by Reporters Without Borders and the International Women’s Media Foundation. Sign the petition.
Reporters Without Borders will hold a special North Korean evening event in Paris on 27 April designed to demonstrate the difficulties journalists have in investigating the plight of North Korean refugees on the Chinese border.
Special evening on North Korea
In the presence of Rama Yade, French secretary of state for human rights
Monday, 27 April, at 7:30 p.m.
École Supérieure de Réalisation Audiovisuelle (ESRA), Salle Jean Renoir 37, Quai de Grenelle, Paris, 15th District
Screening of the documentary “Han, the Price of Freedom” by Alexandre Dereims, winner of the prize for “Best Investigative Reporting” at the 2009 International Festival of News Reporting.
Followed by a debate with
Alexandre Dereims (documentary filmmaker)
Pierre Rigoulot (historian and author of “Pyongyang Aquariums” and "North Korea, thug state”)
Chun Ki-Won (South Korean protestant pastor, head of a network that helps North Korean refugees)
Jean-François Julliard, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general
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