Schwarzenegger calls for release of journalists imprisoned by North Korea

2 San Francisco reporters sentenced to 12 years for illegally crossing country's border

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Monday afternoon called for the release of two local journalists who were sentenced in North Korea to 12 years of

hard labor.

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.

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Posted by DL
a resident of Danville
on Jun 9, 2009 at 8:54 am

Unfortunately don't see them being released from prison, especially if they're stuck in North Korea. Was always commenting about how we should be really keeping "an eye" on North Korea, way back during the Bush administration.

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Posted by Kafka-esque
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2009 at 10:27 am

I don't get it. These "reporters" were working for the Goremeister himself @ Pravda USA, sorry, Current TV. Not the most US/capitalist/free market friendly network around these days. Think NPR for the internet generation. Dear Leader made a HUGE mistake by imprisoning these two reporter-ettes because they were probably producing a segment on how well the Chinese treat their factory workers & how the N. Koreans are using "green" farming & production practices in their nuclear weapons facilities, eco-friendly missile production, etc.

You could have had a great puff piece there Kim, maybe even a quick spot on TMZ if you could have had the two babes seen draped all over you too getting out of your limo.

Like this comment
Posted by Keep going
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 9, 2009 at 10:27 am

DL, this dangerous policy of appeasement towards North Korea goes back to the Clinton years. Remember Madeline Albright's ridiculous visit and concessions? Bush was heavily criticized for referring to North Korea as part of the "axis of evil". Not to defend Bush but let's not make it sound like this is where it started. The missiles should have been shot down, the reactor sites destroyed.

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Posted by think first
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 9, 2009 at 10:32 am

As awful as this punishment is, deserved or not, people need to keep in mind that these journalists violated the laws of another sovereign country. Dumb laws or not, they were not in the USA and cannot expect that the laws of OUR country will supercede the laws of another. Honor killings are blatantly overlooked in some countries. If a citizen of one of those countries comes here and performs an honor killing are we obligated to return that person, without punishment, to their own country? If you deal drugs in Thailand you will be executed. That is their law, people know it when they go there. Deal drugs and die, nothing the US can or should do about that.
I still say that the punishment is far too harsh but the fact is that it is not our country and we do not call the shots there. Those journalists knew that going in, they choose to ignore it now.

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Posted by John
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 9, 2009 at 11:13 am

I wonder if they are being waterboarded? Oh that is right we are the only ones who do that and it is torture but 12 years or whatever it is in a North Korean work camp is rehabilitation.

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Posted by jd
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Have to agree with think first. We will probably secure their release, but it will come at no small cost to the USA both monetarily and diplomaticaly.

Guaranteed when they return there will be many that will treat them as heros, while they sell their story to the highest bidder.

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Posted by Andrew Morgan
a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Jun 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Waterboarding??? That truly is a fraternity hazing prank compared to what the N. Koreans routinely do to their prisoners.

from the uber-left leaning wikipedia:

"Methods of torture and other abuse reportedly included severe beatings; electric shock; prolonged periods of exposure to the elements; humiliations such as public nakedness; confinement for up to several weeks in small "punishment cells" in which prisoners were unable to stand upright or lie down; being forced to kneel or sit immobilized for long periods; being hung by the wrists; being forced to stand up and sit down to the point of collapse; and forcing mothers recently repatriated from China to watch the infanticide of their newborn infants. Defectors continued to report that many prisoners died from torture, disease, starvation, exposure to the elements, or a combination of these causes."

These women will be BEGGING for waterboarding within 3 weeks.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael Almasey
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Jun 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm

"...they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let em' crash (i.e. rot in jail)

You mess with the man, the man mess you up.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 9, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Gonna be real bad for themselves but then again they put themselves in this situation to begin with.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 9, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Maybe the N. Koreans just want to get along? Keep a close eye on the girls! What's the fuss?

Can we all just get along?

Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Andrew, that's nothing. Wake me up when they do something as evil as force prisoners to wear panties on their head.

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