Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Thursday trial for U.S. journalists held by North Korea

After nearly three months of maintaining their silence, the families of two U.S. journalists detained in North Korea are taking to the airwaves to lobby for their release as the women go on trial Thursday.

Until now, their families have not commented publicly, citing the sensitive nature of the case. But this week, the families are launching a media blitz with numerous television appearances, including Monday on CNN's "Larry King Live." At the same time, supporters are using the social-networking site Facebook to organize nationwide candlelight vigils Thursday, when the trial is set to begin in Pyongyang.

Analysts said they think Pyongyang will convict the journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, on spying charges and hand down long sentences in the communist nation's labor camps. "I suspect they will be used in some kind of pawn in future negotiations between North Korea and the U.S. to gain concessions," said Brian Bridges, a professor at Hong Kong's Lingnan University who specializes in the politics and foreign policies of the two Koreas.

The Swedish ambassador to North Korea was allowed to see the two journalists Monday. The ambassador also saw the women March 30 and May 15.

In a letter Laura Ling sent to her family, she asked them to remain strong. “When I first got here, I cried so much. Now, I cry less," the letter read. "I try very hard to think about positive things. ... For example, I think, 'I'm lucky I made it through another day.' I'm lucky my family is working so hard to get

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