The journalists who were sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp were pardoned today by North Korean leader Kim Jung Il as he met with former President Bill Clinton.
The announcement came after former U.S. President Bill Clinton met with top North Korean officials in Pyongyang to appeal for the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had been arrested while reporting from the border between North Korea and China.
"Clinton expressed words of sincere apology to Kim Jong Il for the hostile acts committed by the two American journalists against the DPRK after illegally intruding into it," the news agency reported. "Clinton courteously conveyed to Kim Jong Il an earnest request of the U.S. government to leniently pardon them and send them back home from a humanitarian point of view.
"The meetings had candid and in-depth discussions on the pending issues between the DPRK and the U.S. in a sincere atmosphere and reached a consensus of views on seeking a negotiated settlement of them."
The report said Clinton then conveyed a message from President Obama "expressing profound thanks for this and reflecting views on ways of improving the relations between the two countries."
But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters in Washington before the announced agreement that Clinton was not carrying any message — written or oral — from Obama. (read the rest)
Fox News reports that President Clinton has now left North Korea and some are speculating that he may have the two journalists with him. It’s obvious that North Korea is turning this into a propaganda coup, but you know what? I don’t care. This is great news, and I am giving kudos to President Clinton for a job well done. Ling and Lee did not deserve to spend 12-years in a North Korean hellhole.
I do certainly hope that the Obama administration didn’t send a message to them through President Clinton. That would convey weakness, and that is certainly something we certainly don’t need to do.
But today we can rejoice in this news.