Trial of two U.S. journalists in North Korea a "potential bargaining chip"

Hillary Clinton says charges against them “baseless”

The case of two female American journalists scheduled to go on trial today in North Korea is “a test of how far the isolated Communist state was willing to take its confrontational stance toward the United States,” the New York Times reports. Euna Lee and Laura Ling were on assignment with Current TV, a San Francisco-based media company co-founded by former vice-president Al Gore, working on a report about North Korean refugees who had fled their impoverished country in hopes of finding food in China when they were detained by North Korean soldiers on the border between North Korea and China on March 17. The two have been accused of “illegal entry” and “hostile acts,” charges punishable with a sentence of five years or longer of hard labour. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called the charges “baseless.” Analysts see the women as pawns in a rapidly deteriorating confrontation between the United States and North Korea: “a potential bargaining chip for the Pyongyang regime and a handicap for Washington in its efforts to pressure the regime over its recent missile and nuclear tests,” the paper reports.

The New York Times

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