UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

North Korea to try U.S. journalists in June

RIA Novosti

16:1014/05/2009 MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - Two American journalists arrested by North Korean border guards for illegally entering the country in March will be tried on June 4, the country's official news agency announced on Thursday.

Chinese-American Laura Ling and Korean-American Euna Lee, reporters for Current TV in California, were arrested in the early hours of March 17 near the Tumen River, which marks the reclusive communist state's border with China.

"The Central Court of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea decided to try the American journalists on June 4 according to the indictment of the competent authority," the Korean Central News Agency said, without giving further details.

North Korean state media earlier said the two women had been arrested for "hostile acts."

The U.S. State Department earlier said that a Swedish diplomat had been allowed to meet the two reporters on March 30, and that they were being well treated, but that no visits have been permitted since. The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and maintains contacts via the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said on Monday: "I'm not aware of any kind of reasons that have been given to us as to why they're denying the consular access, which, of course, is contrary to the Vienna Convention."

Ling and Lee were working on a dispatch about North Korean refugees fleeing to China for the San Francisco-based Current TV, owned by U.S. former vice president Al Gore.

Analysts have said the trial is aimed at putting pressure on the United States to make concessions in the long-running dispute surrounding the North's nuclear program.

Last week, North Korea announced that it would continue to bolster its nuclear deterrent if the United States did not abandon its 'hostile policies.'

The North has earlier said it would resume work at its Yongbyon nuclear facility. The country withdrew from the six-nation denuclearization talks after the UN Security Council condemned a rocket launch on April 5, which Pyongyang said was carrying a communications satellite.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list