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Laura Ling & Euna Lee Sentenced to 12 Years in North Korean Prison

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It was March 17th when Current TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested for illegally entering North Korean territory while working on a story. Today, despite protests around the country, they were charged with 12 years of hard labor.

At a time when tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are tightly wound over missile tests, some were hoping their release would help ease those concerns. In a statement President Barack Obama said his administration was “engaged through all possible channels to secure their release."

Amnesty International, via the New York Times, says conditions in the prisons are not good one bit: "Based on its own studies of the North Korean penal system, the group said that prisoners are often forced to work 10 hours or more a day, with no rest days, performing demanding work that can include logging and stone quarrying. Beatings are not infrequent, even for forgetting the words to patriotic songs. Food, hygienic conditions and medical care are poor, taking a toll on prisoners’ health."

For Ling, this is not good as she has an ulcer and Lee has a four-year-old daughter at home.

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Last week, Oprah correspondent Lisa Ling held a vigil for her sister and Lee in Santa Monica. "When Laura comes home we are going to lock her up in her home; her brand new home that she and her husband had been saving for for twelve years -- that she has only spent three months in," she told KCET and the Huffington Post that night. "And just allow her to get reacclimated very slowly and just love her...deeply."