The trial of U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee started yesterday in Pyongyang. The two reporters for Current TV were arrested while reporting from the Chinese side of the border about North Korean refugees. Al Jazeera reports:
The Korean Central News Agency said on Thursday the trial of Laura Ling and Euna Lee would start at 3 pm local time (0600 GMT) but has not released any further information.
Experts say the pair could face up to 10 years in a North Korean labour camp if convicted of entering the country with hostile intent.
This is the first time American citizens have stood trial in a North Korean court, and it is unprecedented for the North to announce the time of trial. The date was announced on May 14. “It seems that the North is attempting to take advantage of this incident for its negotiations with the U.S.,” a South Korean government official speculated.
The verdict could become a new variable in Washington-Pyongyang relations, which are icy after North Korea’s nuclear test on May 25 and moves to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The journalists are charged with “illegal entry” and “hostile acts” against North Korea, which could put them into jail for up to 10 years under the country’s criminal code. The North on March 31 said the charges were supported “by evidence and their own testimonies.”