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US journalists face criminal charges

Latest update : 2009-11-16

According to Korean news agency KCNA, two US female journalists arrested last month on the Chinese-North Korean border and accused of entering the country illegally now face criminal charges. They were shooting a TV documentary at the time.

Reuters - North Korea said on Friday that two U.S. journalists arrested last month on its border with China would be put on trial to face criminal charges.

“Our related agency has decided to turn the U.S. reporters over for trial based on findings of their crimes,” the North’s KCNA news agency reported, without giving further details.

The two women reporters were arrested in March by the Tumen River, which runs along the border between North Korea and China. North Korea has accused them of illegally entering its territory with “hostile” intent.

A U.S. embassy official in Seoul declined to comment.

The planned trial comes as the reclusive state faces U.N.  Security Council censure for launching a long-range rocket earlier this month that regional powers say was a ballistic missile test in disguise.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said while visiting the North’s capital on Thursday there was no easy solution to the international crisis surrounding the North’s missile and nuclear arms programme.

He was due to fly to Seoul for talks with his South korean counterpart on Friday.

Frustration with North Korea has been growing after Pyongyang said it was quitting six-party disarmament talks and voiding all agreements to dismantle its nuclear programme reached with South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and China.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday Washington was willing to have a dialogue with Pyongyang but urged the world not to give in to its unpredictable behaviour.

Washington has said it was in touch with the North through various channels to secure the release of the two journalists, who are believed to be affiliated with U.S.-based online news company Current TV.

It took three months to secure the release of an American in 1996 after he was detained by North Korean guards when he crossed the Yalu River that also separates the North and China.

North Korea is also holding a South Korean worker in an industrial enclave just north of their shared border for allegedly insulting its political system. In a rare meeting with the South this week, the North refused to discuss his fate.

Date created : 2009-04-24