American reporters freed from N. Korea

So, what happens when two American journalists are arrested in a communist country in which the U.S. has no diplomatic presence, and – following accusations of espionage – are sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in the hostile country’s prison?

Bill Clinton to the rescue!

Things were looking bleak for the California-based female reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who, less than 2 days ago, were still imprisoned in North Korea, fearfully awaiting their transfer to a labor camp. They were then told they were being taken to a meeting, and when they walked in the doors – much to their relief – they were greeted by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Euna Lee reunited with her familyIn an earlier meeting with Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s leader, Clinton was able to secure the two journalists’ release in a humanitarian mission that he undertook at the request of former VP Gore, the White House and the women’s families. Gore is co-founder of the media company for which the two women work. When they got arrested – allegedly having crossed the border into North Korea – they were on a reporting trip.

The past five months have been a nightmare for the two women – both in their thirties and one with a 4-year old daughter. Early this morning, their stint as captured ‘spies’ officially ended, when they landed in a suburban Los Angeles airport, along with Bill Clinton, their heroic escort.

Both were overcome with emotion. Holding back tears of immense relief, Ling addressed those gathered for their homecoming, saying:

“To our loved ones, friends, and to the complete strangers with the kindest of hearts who showed us so much love and sent us so many positive thoughts and energy, we thank you.

“We could feel your love all the way in North Korea. It is what kept us going in the darkest of hours. It is what sustained our faith that we would come home.

Laura Ling thanks family, friends, Clinton & team“The past 140 days have been the most difficult heart-wrenching time of lives. We are very grateful we were granted amnesty by the government of North Korea and we are happy to be home and we are just so anxious now to spend some quiet time getting reacquainted with our families.”

Ling also thanked Clinton and his “super-cool team” for securing their release, which comes at just the right time to give hope to the families and friends of the three Americans currently detained in Iran for allegedly spying on the country while hiking along the Iraqi-Iranian border.

images courtesy of AP/AFP

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