UPDATE—AUGUST 4, 2009: North Korean President Kim Jong Il pardoned and released Laura and Euna after negotiations with former President Bill Clinton. Laura and Euna returned to the United States on August 5, 2009, accompanied by President Clinton.
On June 8, 2009, months after they were detained by North Korean authorities at the Chinese border, Laura—sister of Lisa Ling—and Euna were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor after a closed trial.
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Read the Lee and Ling families' statement from June 8:
The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee are shocked and devastated by the outcome their trial.
Laura and Euna are journalists who went to the China-North Korea border to do a job. We don’t know what really happened on March 17, but if they wandered across the border without permission, we apologize on their behalf and we are certain that they have also apologized.
We are very concerned about their mental state and wellbeing. Laura has a serious medical condition that is sure to be exacerbated by the drastic sentence. Euna has a 4-year-old daughter who is displaying signs of anguish over the absence of her mother. We believe that the three months they have already spent under arrest with little communication with their families is long enough.
We ask the Government of North Korea to show compassion and grant Laura and Euna clemency and allow them to return home to their families.
We remain hopeful that the governments of the United States and North Korea can come to an agreement that will result in the release of the girls.
— The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee
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