Families attend vigil for journalists

June 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night to show their support for two Current TV journalists imprisoned in North Korea. Laura Ling and Euna Lee have already spent three months in detention and the two were recently sentenced to 12 years hard labor. On Wednesday night both of their husbands spoke about their ordeal.

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Ling and Lee's husbands live in Southern California, but they came to San Francisco to help bring attention to this story. They say based on what they can tell, their wives are not doing very well.

"It wasn't her normal voice. I could tell she was scared and she was terrified," said Iain Clayton, Ling's husband.

Clayton spoke to his wife for just seven minutes last weekend. Ling and her colleague have been locked up in a North Korean prison since March. They're waiting to begin their sentence of 12 years at a labor camp.

"She was very, very nervous about being transferred to a labor camp, and she said, 'If I am sent to a labor camp, I fear that I might not talk to you for a very, very long time,'" said Clayton.

Clayton along with Lee's husband Michael Saldate and Lee's 4-year-old daughter Hana, came to San Francisco Wednesday night for a gathering in support of the two journalists.

It's been 99 days since North Korean authorities captured Ling and Lee while the two were reporting on human trafficking near the Chinese border. Their husbands say this whole ordeal has taken not only an emotional toll on the women, but also a physical one. Ling has developed an ulcer and Lee has lost 15 pounds. Both are currently being housed in a medical facility.

"I tried to comfort her and nothing I could say could. I wanted to hold her and I couldn't. I just felt helpless," said Saldate.

This week marks significant milestones for both families. The Lings have their five-year wedding anniversary on Friday and little Hana will be graduating from pre-school, who at only 4-years of age, is managing to give her father strength in these tough times.

"She said, 'Daddy don't cry. Mommy will be home very soon,'" said Saldate.

Ling and Lee's husbands speak to State Department officials every day. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is said to be working all channels for their release.

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