All's Quiet On The Western Front For Ling, Lee

Illustration for article titled Alls Quiet On The Western Front For Ling, Lee

Has everyone already forgotten about detained journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee? Advocacy group Reporters Without Borders thinks so.


While the case of Laura Ling and Euna Lee was everywhere earlier this summer, the news on the two U.S. reporters jailed in North Korea has slowed to a crawl in the past few weeks. This is due in part to the fact that little headway has been made in their release, but some believe that this is part of a larger strategy, one that may ultimately work in their favor.

As Politico points out, for the first few months, the U.S. approach to the dispute with North Korea was characterized by harsh, sweeping criticism of the country's nuclear ambitions and the jailing of the journalists, along with other vices. But recently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked separately for the release of the two women, stating on Sunday that "We believe that this is on a separate track. This is an issue that should be resolved by the North Koreans granting amnesty and allowing these two young women to come home as quickly as possible."


This may be all part of a calculated move to keep the story alive, but not in the spotlight:

According to Steve Snyder, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the change is a tacit acknowledgement that tough talk won't work to free the two women. "The statement by Secretary of State Clinton about amnesty gets us back into a position where it's plausible that the North Koreans could take a step to release them. It provides a type of opening that wasn't there in a previous stage."

However, some are extremely unhappy with Clinton's change in tactics. Reporters Without Borders has released a statement criticizing the State Department's handling of the situation. "The State Department has been extremely silent, and we've expected more from Secretary Clinton," said spokesperson Tala Dowlatshahi. T. Kumar, advocacy director of Amnesty International agrees, adding: "If there are no results, then you have to do something public. If there is no public pressure, then the tendency is for them to drop it."

Detained Journalists Get No Media Play [Politico]
These (Agonizing) Days [Huffington Post]

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I'd wondered where this story was going. I have to side with the State Department's view of not drawing too much attention to this situation.