Trial Under Way in N. Korea for Current TV Reporters

Pair could get 10 years in labor camp

North Korea's top court began hearing the case Thursday of two American journalists accused of crossing into the country illegally and engaging in "hostile acts" -- charges that could draw a 10-year sentence in a labor camp.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee of former Vice President Al Gore's San Francisco-based Current TV were supposed to be in court last night at 11 p.m California time, according to North Korea's official news agency.

So far, there have been no updates as to the status of the trial.

Family and friends of the pair worry Ling and Lee are becoming part of an international crisis that they have nothing to do with.

Supporters held rallies across the country last night. In San Francisco, about 100 friends, co-workers and people who don't even know the two journalists, gathered on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, calling for their freedom.

Members of the crowd wore yellow ribbons and carried yellow  carnations, with signs that read "Bring Euna and Laura home," "We miss you," and "Set them free."

"Two little petite, sweet Euna and Laura are stuck in a room a world away and no one can imagine what it's like," friend Kathy Zambera said.

"This is really of tremendous importance to our city, but also to the world," San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar told the crowd.

Mar called for diplomacy and engagement between the U.S. and North Korea and asked to "separate the geopolitics" of the region from this issue.

"We want to see them returned to their families, who love them, and to their community, who have embraced them," said Mar.

Brenna Hamilton, a longtime friend of Ling, read a statement from Ling's sister Lisa Ling, who is also a journalist, on behalf of both families.

"When they left U.S. soil, they never intended to cross the border into North Korea," the statement, in part, said. "If they did, they're truly sorry."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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