Friday, April 24, 2009

North Korea to put two U.S. journalists on trial

North Korea will put two detained American journalists on trial, the official North Korean news agency KCNA said on Friday.

The KCNA said the investigation about the two journalists was completed and North Korea decided to put them on trial. But the report didn't say what the two Americans were charged with, though they indicated that the two American journalists were "illegally intruding into the territory of the DPRK by crossing the DPRK-China border” and committing unspecified "hostile acts".

Espionage or "hostility toward North Koreans" are possible crimes that could be considered "hostile acts" and could mean five to 10 years in prison, South Korean legal expert Moon Dae-hong says.

Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Kookmin University in Seoul, called the Americans another "negotiating chip" for Pyongyang as it embarks on negotiations with Washington and its allies over the nuclear impasse.

Putting them on trial "means that they want to increase their pressure on the U.S., much in line with their recent tactics," he said Friday.

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