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Journalists held in North Korea recount their capture

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The two American journalists held in North Korea for 140 days before former President Bill Clinton brought them home last month have released their first account of the ordeal, deepening suspicions that they may have been lured into a trap by their guide.

Current TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee said they crossed the iced-over Tumen River border from the Chinese to the North Korean side for barely a minute on the morning of March 17 and then turned back before North Korean guards pursued them onto Chinese soil.

The two journalists were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for tresspassing and "hostile acts" before reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il released them to Mr. Clinton when he visited Pyongyang on an"unofficial mission" to negotiate their relaese.

It was "a minute we deeply regret," they both said, indicating they were still recovering from the trauma of their ordeal in which they were held in isolated rooms in a "state guest house" before their release.

"We were firmly back inside China when the soldiers apprehended us," they said in a statement on the Current TV website. "We tried with all our might to cling to bushes, ground, anything that would keep us on Chinese soil."

The journalists say they were "no match for the determined soldiers" whom they say "violently dragged us back across the ice to North Korea and marched us to a nearby army base, where we were detained."

The women were in China to report on North Korean defectors, and traveled to the border to see a common route used to smuggle North Koreans into China.


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