US journalist says broke N.Korean law, seeks amnesty
One of two U.S. journalists detained in North Korea and accused of illegally entering the country has told her sister they broke the law, prompting the United States on Thursday to urge Pyongyang to grant them amnesty, Reuters reported.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee of the U.S. media group Current TV, were arrested in March near the China-North Korea border while reporting on the trafficking of women. They were convicted of "great crimes" in June and sentenced to 12 years hard labor.
Lisa Ling told Sacramento NBC affiliate KCRA that her sister Laura told her by telephone on Tuesday that she and colleague Lee had violated North Korean law and needed help from the U.S. government to secure amnesty.
She quoted Laura Ling as saying: "We broke the law, we are sorry, and we need help. We need our government's help to try and get amnesty because that really is our only hope."
Soon afterward, U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly called on North Korea to release them on grounds of "amnesty," implying for the first time that the U.S. government believes they committed an offense.
Previously, the State Department had called for their release on "humanitarian" grounds and had not acknowledged the possibility of any wrongdoing