Home / International / News Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Released American journalists return home
Adjust font size:

The two female American journalists who had been freed earlier by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) returned to the United States on Wednesday.

Laura Ling (R, Back) and Euna Lee (1st L), two freed U.S. journalists, are embraced by their family members after arrive at the airport in Burbank, California, August 5, 2009. [Xinhua]

Laura Ling and Euna Lee arrived at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank near Los Angeles, escorted by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who secured their release in a 20-hour visit to Pyongyang.

The two journalists returned home amid tears, hugs and expressions of relief that the "nightmare of our lives" was finally over.

Anxiously awaiting them were their families and the founder of the media venture that employs them, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.

The two women emerged only 25 minutes later from the privately- owned Boeing 737, which belongs to entertainment industry executive Steve Bing, a major contributor to Democratic Party causes and candidates.

"Thirty hours ago, Euna Lee and I were prisoners in North Korea. We feared that at any moment we could be sent to a hard labor camp, and then suddenly we were told that we were going to a meeting," said Ling, who was tearful but looked relieved and happy.

"We were taken to a location and when we walked in through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton," she said. "We were shocked, but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end. And now, we stand here, home and free."

Speaking for herself and Lee, Ling expressed "our deepest gratitude to (former) president Clinton" and his "super cool team," as well as to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Gore, Bing, and the Swedish ambassador to Pyongyang, who was involved in the negotiations that produced the former president's visit and the women's release.

Ling said that for her and Lee, their incarceration had represented the "most difficult ... wrenching" time of their lives. She added that they are "grateful that we were granted amnesty by the government of North Korea."

Laura Ling (R, Back) and Euna Lee (1st L), two freed U.S. journalists, are embraced by their family members after arrive at the airport in Burbank, California, August 5, 2009. [Xinhua]

Uncharacteristically self-effacing, Clinton emerged from the plane five minutes after the women, but did not speak.

Obama welcomed the returned of the journalists. "My hope is that the families who have been reunited can enjoy the next several days and weeks, understanding that because of the efforts of (former) president Clinton and (former vice president) Gore, they are able to be with each other once again," Obama said in Washington, D.C..

The 32-year-old Ling, whose parents live in North Hollywood, and the 36-year-old Lee, a Northern California resident, were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for illegally entering North Korea from China on March 17 while working for San Francisco-based Current TV.

The journalists, who were working on a story about DPRK refugees at the time of their arrest, were granted a "special pardon" on Tuesday, shortly after Clinton arrived in the country and met with DPRK leader Kim Jong Il.

1   2   3   4    

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read Bookmark and Share
Pet Name
China Archives
- DPRK releases 2 American journalists
- DPRK pardons 2 US reporters
- Former US President Clinton in DPRK
- Clinton's DPRK visit about more than release of journalists