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Laura Ling and Euna Lee Freed from North Korean Prison, Headed back to L.A.
Current TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee will arrive in Los Angeles tomorrow after a surprise visit by former President Bill Clinton prompted a pardon by Kim Jong II. In June, they were convicted of entering the country illegally and other unspecified "hostile" acts against the country which led to a sentence of 12 years of hard labor.
Although Clinton acted as a private citizen at the request of the families of the two reporters, there a lot of talk about the political implications such as opening talks between the two countries and how North Korea may spin this in their favor, especially to their citizens. "In North Korea, everything is political," said Scott Snyder, director for U.S.-Korea policy at the Asia Foundation, to NPR. "And so the idea that there could be some sort of artificial distinction between a humanitarian mission and a political mission is ludicrous from the North Korean point of view, and so I'm sure that the former president is being asked all kinds of political questions. The point is that as a private visitor, he's not in a position to commit the U.S. government in any particular way."
The Obama Administration called Clinton's trip "solely private."
The families thanked Obama and others in a statement made this afternoon. "The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee are overjoyed by the news of their pardon. We are so grateful to our government: President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the U.S. State Department for their dedication to and hard work on behalf of American citizens."