The International Press Institute (IPI) welcomes the release of US journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were detained by North Korea on 17 March close to the North Korean border with China and had been sentenced to 12 years hard labour. They had been reporting on the trafficking of women for Current TV, a broadcaster co-founded by former US Vice-President Al Gore.

Their release comes after a surprise visit to North Korea by former U.S President Bill Clinton, who met with the country’s leader, Kim Jong-Il.

The plane carrying the former President and the two journalists arrived at Burbank airport, near Los Angeles, earlier this afternoon.

IPI is pleased to see the two journalists reunited with their families, and commends former President Clinton for his efforts to secure their release.

“We’re pleased to see that the two journalists’ ordeal is finally over,” said IPI Deputy Director Michael Kudlak. “This was a complex case with major political ramifications. Our concern, from the beginning, was that Laura Ling and Euna Lee were being used as political pawns in North Korea’s nuclear standoff with the United States.”

Please see the related articles to the right to read the IPI’s coverage of this incident as it developed.