Sunday, June 7, 2009

Journalists sentenced to twelve years of hard labor camps

Source: Reuters

North Korea, facing U.N. sanctions for last month's nuclear test, on Monday raised the stakes in its growing confrontation with Washington by jailing two U.S. journalists to 12 years hard labor for "grave crime."

The sentence follows U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's warning on Sunday the United States was considering putting the North back on its list of states that sponsor terrorism, which would further isolate the impoverished country.

The journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, of U.S. media outlet Current TV, were arrested in March working on a story near the border between North Korea and China. The trial for the two, working for the media outlet founded by former Vice President Al Gore, opened on Thursday.

"The trial confirmed the grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing as they had already been indicted and sentenced each of them to 12 years of reform through labor," the official KCNA news agency said in a brief dispatch.

The harsh sentence is certain to deepen the chill in relations with the United States which has been trying for years, with scant success, to convince North Korea to give up its dreams of becoming a nuclear weapons power.

I was expecting death. The government of North Korea is no joking matter and people who wanted to play nice with them and be their friends and support their policies, this is what their policies are. For those of you who feel this is an injustice, it isn't. It's an injustice to us because we are fortunate to be able to live in a free society. I've escaped communism, this is their normal way of dealing with things. I know there's an immediate outcry that this is wrong. But let's step back and look at the facts.

I'm curious why journalists feel the need to go onsite when doing their reporting when the report is not at all relevant to Current TV. What was this report about? Especially when the journalists are American and the country is North Korea. Why did they feel the need to go to the North Korean border? If it was investigative journalism, maybe they should have realized it wasn't the safest place to be, especially without official military backing. Major new organizations always need passes and credentials to enter any country. Different countries have difference laws, what are you going to do? Argue with them?

Not saying they deserve what happened to them but it was very poor decision-making on their producer's part. Hell, if they did cross into North Korean territory, you can't even claim North Korea is doing anything wrong. There are journalists legally entering North Korea all the time, and secretly snooping around a bit. I've seen the documentaries that gets sneaked out. CBC has reporters there all the time. That's the proper way to do it. In this case, you more or less forfeit your rights to freedom by waltzing in, like these two did. It was a huge mistake.

I feel for them but there isn't much the US can do. They can't be protecting every Tom, Dick and Harry who goes running into all these different countries without permits. And to be frank, these are two small-time unknown reports. It's not like they caught Katie Couric which would really get America all riled up. Of course CBS would never do something this stupid.

Hopefully the North Korea will use the women as a bargaining chip and the government can get them out with just a little food and supplies. Otherwise, there's no way to save them :(


Anonymous said...

Wow, imagine if a N.Korean was caught sneaking around the US, American's would be screaming for death and war.

The N.Korean's are left with no choice, what were they suppose to do, just slap them on the wrist and say "Don't do that again!"

Every student "filmmaker",missionary, and backpacker would be knocking on their door wanting a piece of that ass.

...but like you said, they are just bargaining chips anyway. I don't think they will be mistreated....excessively.

Degenerasian said...

Yep. If they're lucky and the North Koreans don't ask for too much than the US could afford to bargain (food, supplies etc..). They may be fortunate that North Korea is poor. If they had been caught in a country like Myanmar, they may already be dead.

The US isn't going to sacrifice national security over this.