National Press Club

NPC Statement on the Return of American Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee

August 5, 2009

The National Press Club applauds the release and pardon of American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who arrived in California on Wednesday. The journalists had been held by North Korea since March 17 for allegedly perpetrating "hostile acts" for entering the country while reporting on North Korean refugees living in China.

The journalists, of San Francisco-based Current TV, had been sentenced to 12 years working in North Korean labor camps but were pardoned by North Korean president Kim Jong Il during negotiations with former President Bill Clinton Tuesday.

"We condemn the government of North Korea for using these journalists as diplomatic pawns," National Press Club President Donna Leinwand said Wednesday. "This horrible ordeal reminds us of the fragility of press freedom around the world. We must continue to encourage governments to protect journalists and allow them the freedom to gather facts and write the truth."