Kathy Riordan

Kathy Riordan
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AUGUST 4, 2009 3:49PM

Ling, Lee Pardoned by North Korea, Will Return Home

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American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling have been formally pardoned by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the official state news agency (KCNA) has reported.

In a statement  released in the past hour, KCNA tells, "Kim Jong-il issued an order. . .granting a special pardon to the two American journalists who had been sentenced to hard labour."

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton travelled to North Korea by private charter in a surprise mission overnight and met with the country's leader.  It is expected Ling and Lee will be returning with him to the United States within the next twenty-four hours.

The surprise visit by Clinton comes after weeks of behind the scenes negotiations with the North Korean goverment, according to multiple sources.  Clinton was reported to have delivered a personal message to Mr. Kim from President Barack Obama, a report that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs denied earlier today.

The women had been detained by North Korea since their arrest in March for trespassing.  They were later sentenced to twelve years hard labor.  The U.S. State Department recently changed their appeal for the journalists' release to a request for amnesty. 

Update: Freed journalists Ling and Lee were photographed boarding Clinton's privately chartered jet in Pyongyang at approximately 8:30 a.m. local time, and are now reportedly en route back to Los Angeles to be reunited with their families.

The New York Times is reporting that former Vice-President Al Gore, owner of Charter TV which employs the two women, was instrumental in getting Bill Clinton to serve as envoy in the negotiation for their release.  He apparently made the request about ten days ago to Clinton, and Clinton agreed on the condition that the Obama administration did not object. 

Former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta accompanied Clinton on the diplomatic mission to secure the release of the two journalists. 

 

 

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Good to have some good news.
I love and miss Bill Clinton.

That is all.
I hope the spin does not become something about Bill overshadowing Hillary to get this accomplished. That would be a pity.
Kudos to former President Clinton. Job well done. This is great news!
Fantastic. I bet those women couldn't be happier. ;)
Finally, good international news.
It's great news that they are released- but let's not turn this into 'welcome home- all is forgiven'. These two morons need to be told in no uncertain terms that pull that sh*t again and NEXT TIME WE'LL LEAVE YOU TO ROT.
One ex-President and bingo!? But then it IS Bill. He must have charmed the heck out of Kim. I say the President should use as much of these diplomatic ambassadorial missions as possible and as many of them as possible to repair and rejuvenate. If it helps Hillary...more power to her!!!!
Well done Sir... mighty well done!
Go Bill! I heard this on the news first thing this morning...thank God! Now he can jet off to Iran and get those poor American hikers out of jail too...
It's good to see effective diplomacy.
Great news.... just shows the power of diplomacy!
When I heard that Bill was en route to North Korea I knew those women were as good as home.
I'm so glad to hear that they have been pardoned. Thank goodness! Good job to Mr. Clinton!
Very good news...somedays I do miss Bill.
Bill is the man you want on your side if you're in a jam! I luff him.
This is very good news.
Perhaps all it took was to stop calling them (the North Koreans) terrorists). Amazing how far diplomacy can take us. Now if we could send the Clinton Team to Iran, Palestine, Lebanon.

Hell, it'd be good just to watch the right wing wring their hands in angst over success they've so miserably failed at.
I loves me some Bill Clinton. All that remains is for one or both of the freed journalists to go down on Bill during the flight back to the US, and this will be a drama worthy of Dreamworks' new Porn Division.

Congrats to the journalists' families, who must have been in hell since they learned of the sentence - 12 years of hard labor, at "work camps" that have been compared to the Nazis' death camps.
Did anyone else see the same thing that I did when the ladies arrived at and boarded the plane? Specifically I am referring to Euna Lee and that she appeared to be looking at Bill Clinton's shoes as he welcomed her aboard the aircraft. She did not seem to make any eye contact at all and I find that unusual. When I saw that I had one of those oh-oh moments.

I hope that I was wrong.
To all those who commented, I agree this was very good news, and hats off to Bill Clinton for being the person to get it done and bring them home. John Steiner, I suspect the women were instructed on a somewhat humble departure under the circumstances.
It was a done deal before his plane even touched down. A big round of applause for the negotiators who made it happen. The families of both women must be SOOOOOOO happy today! BRAVO!
I felt kind of sorry for Al Gore this morning at the big arrival ceremony. It can't be fun to share Bill's spotlight. There really ought to be a Nobel Prize Winner baseball cap and an OSCAR lapel pin for moments like this.
Why did Al Gore and Gotham Chopra and David Gergen all refer to the two WOMEN as "girls" in their public remarks? Is this male chauvinsim in action? Or is this, as others have suggested, most notably Ablonde here, just a familial familiar way to speak about grown women as "girls"? I see both POVs. Which one is correct? When we speak publicly about grown adult women as "girls" instead of "women" are we not feeding into the sexual objectification and rape abuse of women in our popular culture, from Erin Andrews peep holes to the infantilization of women in our culture? Girls? Those two women just spent 140 nightmarish days and nights in North Effing Korea and they come home and are called "girls" by Al Gore and Deepak Chopra fils and David Combover Gergen? What's up with that?

Notes: In addition to Gore using the term, I also noticed that Deepak Chopra's celebrity son Gotham Chopra used the same term -- "girls" -- in his Huffington Post blogpost about their release. And Harvard talking head and silly "combover maven" David Gergen on CNN today (David, please lose that riduculous combover, everyone watching TV can see it drooling over the top of your very bald head, grow up already and face facts, sir! and I say this as a bald man myself! ) also called the two women, 32 and 36, as "girls".

So Ablond, as you said in another thread, maybe you are right, maybe calling grown women as girls is not offensive. I am glad to read your POV here. Let's see what others say. In some cases, in certain situations, I agree, calling grown men or women, boys or girls, makes sense. And maybe in this familial love love love reunion at the airport, calling Ms Ling and Ms Lee "girls" makes the homecoming warm and fuzzy, and I am open to that interpretation. What do others feel?