Laura Ling and Euna Lee are sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for “committing hostilities against the Korean nation and illegal entry.”
The sentences come as North Korea warns of “extreme” measures if the UN sanctions the country for conducting nuclear tests, so it is not hard to see that Pyongyang may use the two reporters as a bargaining chip. There’s also speculation that they also have become unwitting parts of a possible power vacuum over a successor to Kim Jong Il. What’s unclear are the exact circumstances of their arrest, as they were on the China-North Korea border area when they were detained.
Current TV has been downplaying the story, but it is not surprising given the sensitivities of the situation. Al Gore is rumored to be working back channels to secure their release and, according to some reports, prepared to fly to North Korea to win their freedom.