Two American Women Held in N. Korea for Spying

Two American journalists based in San Francisco and working for CurrentTV have been arrested by North Korean guards and are currently facing intense interrogation in Pyongyang, North Korea. Reporter Laura Ling and photographer Euna Kim are allegedly under investigation for espionage, but U.S. officials have not been very open about their plans to get Ling and Kim out of their predicament. We do know that because the U.S. has no diplomatic presence in North Korea, they are working with Swedish diplomats in the country to gain access to the two American nationals.

If convicted of spying, the women will face a lot more than interrogation – a minimum of five years each in a North Korean prison. State Department Acting Spokesman Robert Wood has told reporters, “As I’ve said, we’re trying to work this issue diplomatically. For me to stand up here and talk about it in detail is not helpful. So I’m just going to limit my comments to what I’ve given you today. I mentioned to you yesterday that I think the less said from here the better in terms of trying to win the release of these two Americans.”

Map of KoreaApparently, the two American women were on the Chinese side of the border, when North Korean guards seized and drove them to North Korea in two separate vehicles. There has been lack of clarity around reasons for the arrest. While some reports say the women are accused of spying, others say they are being held for entering North Korea illegally. The international community has been informed that they are being treated well, but these assuring reports come to us from the girls’ North Korean captors, so it’s hard to take them at face value.

Tension between North Korea and the international community has been mounting since the former announced the launch of a communications satellite between April 4 and April 8, 2009. The U.S. and its allies have requested that the launch be cancelled; their intelligence suggests that North Korea plans to launch a long-range missile test, not an innocuous satellite communications device.

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