US President Barack Obama says he would do everything within his power and would use all possible leverages to release two American journalists jailed in North Korea.
The White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters early on Monday that “The [US] president [Barack Obama] is deeply concerned by the reported sentencing of the two American citizen journalists by North Korean authorities, and we are engaged through all possible channels to secure their release,” said AFP.
North Korea, following a five-day trial, sentenced Laura Ling and Euna Lee to twelve years of hard labor on Monday after they were convicted of ‘committing hostilities against the Korean nation’.
The two were also convicted of illegally entering the country.
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Earlier, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said that the US government’s “thoughts are with the families of the two detained journalists at this difficult time.”
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“We once again urge North Korea to grant the immediate release of the two American citizen journalists on humanitarian grounds,” Kelly added.
The two reporters, both in their thirties, were working for former Vice President Al Gore’s California-based Current Affairs TV when detained.
The US State Department last week did not rule out the possibility that Gore might travel to Pyongyang to personally intervene and help releasing the two journalists.
North Korea has in the past freed captured Americans but only after personal interventions.