N. Korea Sentences 2 U.S. Journalists to 12 Years of Hard Labor

Two American journalists have been sentenced to 12 years of labor in North Korea after being arrested while reporting on North Korean refugees in China. It is unclear whether the two women were detained after crossing over the North Korean border or if North Korean guards crossed onto Chinese territory to capture them. From the New York Times:

The Central Court, the highest court of North Korea, held the trial of the two Americans, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, from Thursday to Monday and convicted them of “committing hostilities against the Korean nation and illegal entry,” the North’s official news agency, KCNA, said in a report monitored in Seoul.

Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee have been held since they were detained by North Korean soldiers patrolling the border between China and North Korea on March 17.

[…] The sentencing came amid rising tensions between Washington and Pyongyang. Earlier Monday, North Korea threatened to retaliate with “extreme” measures if the United Nations punished it for its nuclear test last month, and Washington warned that it might try to put the North back on its list of states that sponsor terrorism, a designation that could subject the impoverished state to more financial sanctions.

The Daily NK has more details:

The KCNA announced, “The Central Court of the DPRK staged the trial of American journalists Laura Ling and Lee Seung Eun (Euna Lee) from the 4th to 8th. The two were convicted of crimes against the state and illegal border crossing, and the Central Court sentenced them both to 12 years of reform through labor.”

Labor camp prisons are not dealt with by the National Security Agency but the People’s Safety Agency. Prisoners are detained in the labor camps under the PSA and are not classified as political prisoners. Family members or relatives of prisoners can visit the reeducation camp and are allowed to bring in food for prisoners. When the term of imprisonment expires, the prisoners can be released.

The two have a high chance of being sent to one or other of two special reeducation camps. The People’s Safety Agency operates special reeducation camps in order to detain officials of the Workers’ Party, other high cadres or important figures who need to be well treated. These camps are better-equipped than other general camps. They serve relatively better food.

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