SEOUL, South Korea — Two American journalists who have been detained in North Korea for two months on charges of illegal entry and “hostile acts” will be put on trial June 4, the Communist North announced on Thursday.
The reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were arrested by the North Korean military on March 17 on the border between China and North Korea. They had been in China reporting on North Korean refugees for Current TV, a San Francisco-based media company founded by Al Gore, the former vice president.
In announcing the trial date, the North’s state-run news agency, KCNA, gave no details on what charges they faced. But the government had earlier said that it found evidence of illegal entry and unspecified hostile acts.
The news agency said that the country’s highest court, the Central Court, decided to try the case, indicating that the journalists will have no chance to appeal. The court usually hands down its verdict at the end of a one-day hearing.
Under North Korea’s criminal code, a person convicted of hostile acts against the state faces at least five years in a labor camp. Illegal entry carries a sentence of up to three years.
The trial comes amid heightened tension between North Korea and the United States after the North launched a long-range rocket on April 5. The United States pressed the United Nations Security Council to tighten sanctions on the North.
In retaliation, Pyongyang expelled United Nations nuclear monitors, and threatened to restart a plant that makes weapons- grade plutonium and to conduct a nuclear test.
News of the trial date came just days after Iran released an Iranian-American journalist sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of spying for the United States. The journalist, Roxana Saberi, was released Monday after an appeals court reduced her original sentence to a two-year suspended sentence.
Current TV Isn't Talking.
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