North Korea said yesterday it would put on trial two US journalists arrested this month on its border with China, stoking tensions with Washington ahead of a planned rocket launch that has already alarmed the region.
The reclusive state accused the two women reporters, Taiwanese-American Laura Ling (凌志美) and Euna Lee, both from the US-based media outlet Current TV, of unspecified “hostile acts.”
The reporters were arrested two weeks ago by the Tumen River, which runs along the east side of the border between North Korea and China, while working on a story.
“The illegal entry of US reporters into the DPRK [North Korea] and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements, according to the results of intermediary investigation conducted by a competent organ of the DPRK,” North Korea’s KCNA news agency said.
“The organ is carrying on its investigation and, at the same time, making a preparation for indicting them at a trial on the basis of the already confirmed suspicions,” it said.
KCNA said the reporters would be allowed consular access and treated according to international laws.
The US has no diplomatic relations with the North and uses the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang to act as its mediator on such issues.
A US State Department spokesman said Washington was trying to solve the problem through diplomatic channels.
Peter Beck, a Korean affairs specialist at the American University in Washington, said the arrests could provide a means for Pyongyang and Washington to talk to each other.
Beck said he expected Stephen Bosworth, Washington’s envoy for North Korea, to be dispatched in the weeks after North Korea’s planned rocket launch, which could take place as early as this weekend, to secure the release of the two women.
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