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Detained US reporters likely in Pyongyang

ICC Note:

Continue to pray for Christians in North Korea as the government is becoming more bold in its efforts to isolate and repress the country despite increasing famine. Two US reporters reporting on the plight of North Korean refugees were detained last week and are believed held in Pyongyang.


3/22/08 North Korea (AP) Two American journalists detained by North Korean soldiers are believed to have been sent to Pyongyang for questioning, a news report said Sunday.

North Korea said Saturday it was investigating two Americans it detained Tuesday for “illegally intruding” into its territory after crossing the border from China.

A brief dispatch from the North’s official Korean Central News Agency gave no other details, but it was apparent confirmation of reported arrests of two female U.S. journalists reporting on North Korean refugees in the border area.

South Korean media and a South Korean missionary identified the two detained Americans as Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters for former Vice President Al Gore’s San Francisco-based media outlet Current TV.

“Considering the significance of the case, there is a high possibility that the two U.S. journalists have been sent to Pyongyang and are undergoing a direct investigation” by the North’s spy agency and military, Yonhap quoted a source in China it described as privy to North Korean affairs.

Yonhap quoted other sources in China as saying the North’s confirmation of the arrest appeared to demonstrate that Pyongyang’s intelligence and military headquarters are directly interrogating the journalists.

Yonhap also said the North is expected to “politically” use the U.S. journalists in its negotiations with the U.S. government.

Ties between Washington and Pyongyang already have been strained over the North’s refusal to fully verify its past nuclear activities and its announced plan to launch a satellite into orbit in early April. U.S. and other regional powers argue the launch is a cover for a long-range missile test.

The two journalists, along with a male cameraman and a guide, were headed to Yanji, across the border from North Korea’s far northeastern corner, where they planned to interview women forced by human traffickers to strip for online customers and meet with children of defectors, according to the Rev. Chun Ki-won of the Seoul-based Durihana Mission, a Christian group that helps defectors.

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