Campaign group Reporters Without Borders has said that the jail sentences handed down to two American journalists in North Korea are “much more severe than anything we imagined”.
American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been convicted of the “grave crime” of illegally entering the country at what RWB said was a “sham trial” and have beeen sentenced to 12 years of “reform through labour”.
“These 12-year sentences are a terrible shock for all those who have repeatedly insisted on their innocence”, Reporters Without Borders said. “The sentences are much more severe than anything we had imagined. The authorities in Pyongyang must urgently reverse this decision and allow Ling and Lee to rejoin their families.”
RWB believes that the sentences were designed to deter journalists from reporting in the border area between China and North Korean, which is ranked as the worst country in Asia for press freedom by RWB. In 2008 North Korea was ranked at number 172 in the RWB World Press Freedom Index, making it the second worst place in the world to work as a journalist ahead of only Eritrea.
Ling and Lee were arrested on 17 March and work for California-based web television station Current TV.
RWB has begun a petition calling for the release of the pair: Petition