Monday, June 08, 2009

Clinton urges clemency for two U.S. journalists in North Korea sentenced to 12 years

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged North Korea to grant clemency for two American journalists sentenced to 12 years in prison for illegally entering that country and another unspecified offense.

The Obama administration has tried to keep the case of the two journalists separate from broader problems with North Korea - including its recent nuclear test - and it is appealing for their release on humanitarian grounds, now that their brief close-door trial has ended.

Clinton declined to elaborate on her assertion that every possible channel with the North Koreans was being used. But officials said this has included a letter to North Korean authorities from the Secretary, apparently urging clemency and explaining the circumstances of the two reporters' presence along the border on March 17.

The United States and North Korea do not maintain diplomatic relations, but they often exchange messages through North Korea's U.N. mission in New York.

The reporters were detained by North Korean border guards as they worked on a story about North Korean refugees in China for the California-based media company Current TV.

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