August 4, 2009 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Bill Clinton arrives in Pyongyang to seek release of US journalists

Reporters Without Borders reiterates its support for detained American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee following former US President Bill Clinton’s arrival this morning in Pyongyang with the aim of negotiating their release.

“We hope that the talks between Bill Clinton and the North Korean authorities will lead quickly to the release of Ling and Lee, whose state of health has deteriorated in a disturbing manner,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The US request for an amnesty for the two journalists must be granted as a matter of urgency so that they can receive treatment without delay.”

Little information is so far available about Clinton’s visit but the North Korean news agency KCNA reported that he was received by Supreme People’s Assembly vice-president Yang Hyong Sop and deputy foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan.

Ling and Lee, who work for California-based Current TV, were arrested on the border between North Korea and China on 17 March, while preparing a report on the trafficking of North Korean women across the border. A Pyongyang court sentenced them on 8 June to 12 years in a labour camp.

The US government stopped pressing for their release on humanitarian grounds last month and instead asked North Korea to grant them an amnesty. Reporters Without Borders also called for an amnesty in the course of a rally in support of Ling and Lee in Paris on 9 July. At the same time, it stressed that journalists have a fundamental right to do reporting in the field.