Saturday, July 11, 2009

A new approach to freeing Lee, Ling

Quiet diplomacy hasn't worked. Al Gore hasn't produced any results. President Obama isn't taking about it. So it appears a new strategy is emerging in the effort to free Current TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were captured by North Korea nearly three months ago.

Now the idea is that the two women should admit their "crimes" and ask for mercy.

Lisa Ling (pictured at a rally in Sacramento Thursday) said her sister Laura told her by telephone on Tuesday that she and colleague Euna Lee had violated North Korean law and needed help from the U.S. government to secure amnesty.

Now that admission is being used by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to plead for amnesty for the two reporters from the San Francisco-based TV company.

"The two journalists and their families have expressed great remorse for this incident and I think everyone is very sorry that it happened," Clinton told foreign service employees and others at a State Department meeting, according to the AFP news agency.

The U.S. government might have to apologize, too. According to the AP, University of Georgia political scientist Han S. Park said that North Korean officials told him during a five-day visit that the U.S. should offer "a remorseful acknowledgment" over the journalists' reporting, which they believe constituted "hostile acts" against their country because it would have cast the North in a negative light.

To help secure the women's release, Park said the U.S. "should acknowledge" that, though he cautioned that such an expression alone might not guarantee their freedom.

(Photo credit: Rich Pedroncelli, AP)

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