Back in U.S., two journalists freed in North Korea could return to work in Bay Area

Laura Ling and Euna Lee work for SF-based Current TV

Two Bay Area journalists returned this morning to their families in Southern California after being pardoned by North Korea during a visit to the country by former President Bill Clinton, who made the trip to negotiate for their release.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who work for San Francisco-based Current TV, were arrested March 17 near the North Korean border, reportedly while working on a story about human trafficking along the Tumen River border area between China and North Korea.

Rebecca Delgado Rottman, who works for San Francisco's Academy of Art University, said she spoke yesterday with Lee's husband, Michael Saldate, who tallked about their release.

The families of Ling and Lee are both in Burbank where they welcomed the women's return, who were with former president Clinton. According to Rottman, a phone call with Saldate was "just so happy and ecstatic...all we could do was cry, but it was tears of joy."

Rottman, vice president of community relations for the university, said she did not personally know Lee, who graduated from the university's School of Motion Pictures and Television in 2001.

However, she said she has grown close to the families after helping to organize vigils for the jailed journalists, who had been sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labor for illegally entering into and committing "grave crimes" against the country.

Rottman did not know whether the women faced health problems, but said she's sure that "whatever medical problem that ignited during the time will be fixed immediately. The most important and most powerful medicine is to be home with their family."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released a statement this afternoon celebrating the release of Ling and Lee.

"Maria and I happily join all Californians in celebrating the pardon of Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Both women risked their lives to search for truth in an area of the world where the press is often censored, and I applaud those who worked to negotiate their pardon," Schwarzenegger said.

"Our heartfelt thoughts are with the families of Euna and Laura, and we wish them both a safe return to California," he said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein also applauded news that North Korea had released the two women.

In an email to the Pleasanton Weekly, Feinstein said:

"I applaud North Korea's decision to release these two California journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, and allow them to return home to their families. This has been an extremely difficult time for all involved, and I am grateful that this humanitarian gesture will allow them to begin a new chapter of their lives."

"I extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and former President Bill Clinton for their quiet but persistent diplomacy, which made this day a reality," Feinstein added.

Bay City News, Jeb Bing

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Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Weekly
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm

I wonder if Bill took Monica Lewinsky to help with the negotiations....

Like this comment
Posted by My 2/100
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 4, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Imagine sending George W. Bush on a serious negotiation overseas. Or worse, Sarah Palin.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:22 pm

I wonder why the NK did not want to be served red beans and condoleeza rice...hmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

No, President took along Senator Larry Craig...the footsies cat...hahahahahahahahahah...

Like this comment
Posted by Don't
a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Don't be so pompus and arrogant. Clinton flew out of the Country with TWO U.S. citizens, protected by the constitution, just like you and I.

Like this comment
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2009 at 5:40 am

Hurray, BJ Clinton saved the day!

You guys need to lighten up....too sensitive . The first comment was funny.

If you boys view your political party as a favorite sports team that you have to defend at all cost.... you will always be sadly disappointed. They are all human and make mistakes. Not to mention the political process corrupts all "Don Quixote's" who enter with good intentions.

Like this comment
Posted by Stay Cool
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2009 at 6:58 am

But it's not funny, and it is in very poor taste. It has nothing to do with defending your party - Mr. Clinton went on and successfully completed a very significant humanitarian mission and to reference his lowest point is classless. It is insane how people continue to refer to him as 'BJ' Clinton or talk about that every time his name comes up. He is an accomplished individual. Move on, for heaven's sake. It's really creepy that people won't.

Like this comment
Posted by Conservative
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 5, 2009 at 7:45 am

P-Town is one of the most conservative enclaves in the Bay and East Bay Areas and it shows!

Like this comment
Posted by rosemarie
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 5, 2009 at 9:46 am


Like this comment
Posted by what?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2009 at 9:51 am

One DUMB Rosemarie has to take away from two U.S. citizens relaese and hijack the TOPIC for her selfish arrogant agenda!

Sef Centered Rosemarie!

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 5, 2009 at 11:56 am

Po po rosamaria! Po po rosamaria! I'll pay attention to that what you crave?

Attention? tee hee hee, tee hee hee...hahahahahahhhaha.....creep!


the prophet...Cholo

Like this comment
Posted by Nonsense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Re: A very significant humanitarian mission - Nonsense, he went to NK to pay ransom and kiss KJ Il's butt for the propaganda machine

With the pardon, KJ Il bought time to sell a few more nukes....

Watch out!

Like this comment
Posted by Dublinmike
a resident of Dublin
on Aug 6, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Journalists or tourists that get close to an international border are taking a big risk and they are responsible for their own actions. It’s similar to walking up to the edge of sea cliff to see what happens.

However, I am compassionate enough to know that they are terrified and need help. At first I thought Clinton going to NK was a mistake but I can see benefits that will be useful for our country. I realize that the NK government had a field day with Clinton and this was expected. But, the PR we received was significant and may have open dialogue again.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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