Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Monday afternoon called for the release of two local journalists who were sentenced in North Korea to 12 years of
In a prepared statement, Schwarzenegger said he and his wife Maria Shriver "were saddened to learn of the sentencing of Laura Ling and Euna Lee," two journalists for the San Francisco-based Current TV arrested in March near the North Korean border.
"In addition to sending them our deepest thoughts and prayers, California stands ready to offer any resources and assistance the federal government may need to bring these two journalists home safely," Schwarzenegger said.
Earlier Monday, the international journalist advocacy group Reporters Without Borders condemned the sentencing.
"These 12-year sentences are a terrible shock for all those who have repeatedly insisted on their innocence," the group said in a statement.
Ling and Lee were arrested March 17 reportedly while working on a story about refugees living in China. The government of North Korea accuses the women of crossing into the country illegally and committing "hostile acts."
Media reports Monday stated the pair had been convicted after a five-day trial in North Korea's highest court.
"The sentences are much more severe than anything we had imagined," the statement from Reporters Without Borders read. The group went on to say the decision was "clearly designed to scare journalists trying to do investigative reporting in the border area between China and North Korea."
Current TV spokesman Brent Marcus declined comment Monday.
Schwarzenegger called journalism "a vital part of freedom and democracy."
"And we are all indebted to the men and women who risk their lives around the world to dig beneath the surface to uncover the real stories," he said.