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North Korea to put American journalists on trial

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SEOULNorth Korea said Friday investigators have all the evidence needed to try two American journalists “on the basis of the confirmed crimes committed by them.”

That word came via Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency more than five weeks after North Korean soldiers grabbed Laura Ling and Euna Lee of Current TV network as they filmed along the North’s Tumen River border with China. The agency said a “competent organ,” meaning probably the pervasive North Korean security network, had “concluded the investigation” and had the documents to bring them to trial.

The inference was that the two had acknowledged “hostile acts,” as claimed by North Korea after they were picked up and removed to a “state guest house” near Pyongyang.

North Korean authorities are presumed to be considering espionage charges against Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee as the North begins to make good on its vow to restart its nuclear-weapons program. The journalists were reporting on defectors’ tales of human rights abuses – a taboo topic as far as North Korean officials are concerned.

Eager for recognition as the world’s ninth nuclear power, North Korea is believed to see the arrests as a powerful tool in eventual negotiations with the US.

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