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US wants amnesty for jailed journalists
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The Obama administration on Friday called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to grant amnesty to two female American journalists who were sentenced to 12 years in prison for "hostile actions" against the country.

"The two journalists and their families have expressed great remorse for this incident, and I think everyone is very sorry that it happened," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said.

A conservative protester shouts a slogan as he holds a placard with pictures of U.S. journalists Euna Lee (L) and Laura Ling, both detained by DPRK, during an anti-DPRK rally denouncing the DPRK's cyber attacks and demanding a release of the U.S. journalists, at a park in Seoul July 10, 2009.

The DPRK's highest court has sentenced the two journalists, who were captured for allegedly crossing the border from China and committing "hostile actions" against the country, to 12 years of what it calls "reform through labor."

"What we hope for now is that these two young women would be granted amnesty through the North Korean system and be allowed to return home to their families as soon as possible," said the state secretary.

Clinton's remarks came after the two journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, admitted they had violated the DPRK's law.

Earlier this week, Laura was allowed to phone her sister Lisa in California. Lisa later told reporters that her sister conveyed "a very specific message" that Euna and she had violated the DPRK' s law and they need the administration's help.

Following the sentence, the Obama administration has been trying to get the two journalists released by diplomatic channel, mainly Swedish Ambassador in Pyongyang Mats Foyer, whose country has diplomatic relations with the DPRK and offers services to U.S. citizens in the country.

"Clearly our bottom line is what it has always been, that we hope to have these two journalists released as rapidly as possible, " State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters at the daily press briefing.

"There has been a legal process in North Korea. Within the North Korean system, we would hope that there would be an amnesty that would allow that release to take place," said the spokesman.

(China Daily July 11, 2009)

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