Having been granted a “special pardon” thanks to ex-president Bill Clinton, Euna Lee and Laura Ling are finally on their way home.
The women were arrested near the border of North Korean and China in March and have remained imprisoned since. Earlier today, Clinton sat down in a rare meeting with reclusive leader Kim Jong Il, who granted the pardon, as explained by CNN:
Clinton expressed words of sincere apology to Kim Jong Il for the hostile acts committed by the two American journalists against the DPRK after illegally intruding into it,” the news agency reported. “Clinton courteously conveyed to Kim Jong Il an earnest request of the U.S. government to leniently pardon them and send them back home from a humanitarian point of view.
Ling and Lee had originally been sentenced to 12 years in prison, much to the horror of their families and supporters stateside. Thanks to Clinton’s intervention, the Ling and Lee’s families await their arrival in Los Angeles. The outcome was not a total surprise, though- analyst Mike Chinoy told CNN:
“I suspect that it was made pretty clear in advance that Bill Clinton would be able to return with these two women, otherwise it would be a terrible loss of face for him.”