ICAS Special Contribution


SFCC Demands N. Korea Free Two U.S. Journalists

Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club

Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.

965 Clover Court, Blue Bell, PA 19422

Email: icas@icasinc.org

Biographic Sketch & Links: Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club

[Editor's note: We gratefully acknowledge the special contribution of this paper
with written permission to ICAS of Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club. sjk]

SFCC Demands N. Korea Free Two U.S. Journalists

Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club

The Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club wishes to protest the detention in North Korea of two journalists from Current TV, the San Francisco internet television network. The two, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, have been held in or near Pyongyang since they were picked up by North Korean soldiers on March 17. DPRK authorities have said they were arrested for "illegal entry" and "hostile acts." The government has said that it has completed its investigation and is ready to bring them to trial.

Ever since their arrest, the two have been held incommunicado with no foreign visitors except a Swedish diplomat, representing U.S. interests in Pyongyang. They are not known to have any attorney to defend them, they are unable to hire an outside investigator, they have seen no friends or relatives and they have not been able to tell what really happened to them when soldiers seized them as they were filming along the Tumen River border between North Korea and China. We are particularly concerned by the government's statement that it has obtained "documents," suggesting "confessions" forced by prolonged interrogation.

We regard this treatment as inhumane and beyond the bounds of international law. Their continued incarceration is particularly cruel and unjust since they were clearly pursuing a difficult story on a professional basis. We take their silence while under interrogation and facing trial as evidence of the denial of the rights to which they are entitled under international law.

The DPRK has failed to specify the charges against Laura Ling and Euna Lee, to state when they will go on trial, to guarantee their right to a legal defense, including a foreign attorney, or to assure the presence throughout the proceedings of diplomatic and other foreign witnesses. There is no indication of the type of court before which they are to appear, whether military or civilian, or any understanding of the laws under which they are to be tried. Nor is there any statement of the penalties they face.

The clear impression is that Laura Ling and Euna Lee are pawns in a much greater struggle. The DPRK continues to hold them in isolation, beyond access to attorneys, friends or others in a position to help and advise them, while awaiting diplomatic moves by the United States and the United Nations. The calculated use of these two journalists for this purpose constitutes a grave abuse of human rights and is an affront to normal international standards.

In hopes of just resolution of this case, we call upon the DPRK to release Laura Ling and Euna Lee immediately in recognition of their rights as journalists to report along the Tumen River border, with full consideration of the hardships endured in holding them. While awaiting their release, we demand regular visitation privileges for foreign attorneys, diplomats, employers and friends. In the event the DPRK continues to hold them, we demand an open and speedy trial, followed by their immediate release regardless of the verdict and sentence.

Fulfillment of these demands represents the only fair and reasonable outcome of the prolonged incarceration of two journalists who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of soldiers while on a challenging and sensitive assignment.

Respectfully submitted, Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club
Maeng Joo Seok, President

This page last updated 6/5/2009 jdb

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