Laura Ling, Euna Lee to become bargaining chips ?

Published June 8th, 2009 - 01:54 GMT

Two American journalists were convicted Monday in North Korea for illegal entry into the country, spying and "hostile acts", according to reports.  Euna Lee and Laura Ling had been in the country since March, reporting for Current TV, a California-based station.  They were doing a story on the trafficking of women in North Korea, and were arrested near the China-North Korea border. 

In a statement from the family members of Laura Ling said the two women had no intention of stepping on North Korean soil.  The two reporters were sentenced to serve 12 years in a hard labor camp, the maximum allowed under North Korean law.  The United States fears Lee and Laura Ling will be used as bargaining chips as the United Nations prepares its response to North Korea's May 25 atomic bomb tests. 

The United States does not currently have diplomatic relations with North Korea.  It found out about the sentencing from the Swedish ambassador to Pyongyang.  The U.S. State Department has already called upon the North Korean government for their immediate release.

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