Vigil held for journalists held in N. Korea

June 4, 2009 12:27:07 AM PDT
In North Korea, to two Bay Area journalists are now on trial. Laura Ling and Euna Lee, of San Francisco-based Current TV, are accused of entering North Korea illegally and for "hostile acts."

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Ling and Lee are facing the central court in Pyongyang and if convicted, the two could end up in a labor camp for at least 10 years. Supporters, though, are urging the U.S. and North Korean governments not to let politics decide their fate.

The time has come for Lee and Ling to go on trial and throughout the U.S., their friends and supporters gathered to hope for the best. The vigil on the steps of San Francisco City Hall was one of seven across the country.

"If for no other reason we're gathered here tonight, it's because we'd like to see two families reunited," said former Current TV employee Mike Shen.

The two reporters of San Francisco based Current TV were arrested in March near the Chinese/North Korean border while reporting on refugees living in China. It's unclear if they were even on North Korean soil, but they've been accused of crossing the border to commit "hostile acts."

"They're two very scared, but very strong women sitting alone in separate rooms, sitting alone in separate rooms thousands of miles away from everything they care about," said former Current TV employee Holly Gibson.

Friends and supporters are also heartbroken for the families of Ling and Lee. Ling is married and so is Lee. Lee is also a mother of a 4-year-old girl.

"For me that's just sad. It's sad that they can't be home and be with the people that love them," said vigil organizer Lynn Perkins.

Supporters hope that coming together in large numbers will pressure the North Korean government to release Ling and Lee. Rob Everett was roommates with Ling while both were students at UCLA.

"I'm used to being able to protest. I'm used to being able to go out and fight against something and there's nothing to really fight against in this other than asking that they please be released," said Everett.

Friends say it's a situation that leaves them feeling helpless. They wrote post cards in hopes that one day Ling and Lee will be able to read them.

"Being in a cell somewhere I worry about the effect that it will have on both ladies because that changes you regardless," says former Current TV employee Nzingha Shakur.

It's unclear how long the trial will last. Laura Ling's sister, Oprah-reporter Lisa Ling, has said that if the two journalists did in fact cross the North Korean border, that she and her family quote "profusely apologizes on their behalf."

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