Two U.S. journalists who were detained in North Korea while covering the plight of defectors living along the China-North Korea border have been sentenced to 12 years in labor prisons, the country’s state-run media said Monday.
The Central Court of North Korea sentenced Laura Ling and Euna Lee for the “grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing,” the Korean Central News Agency said.
As a result, the court sentenced the women to “12 years of reform through labor,” meaning they will serve out their sentence in a labor prison.
A U.S. State Department spokesman, Ian Kelley, said the Swedish ambassador in North Korea confirmed the sentence with North Korean authorities. Sweden represents U.S. interests in North Korea; the United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with North Korea.
“We are deeply concerned by the reported sentencing of the two American citizen journalists by North Korean authorities, and we are engaged through all possible channels to secure their release,” Kelley said in a statement. “We once again urge North Korea to grant the immediate release of the two American citizen journalists on humanitarian