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Page last updated at 21:30 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 22:30 UK

N Korea to try reporters in June

Journalists Euna Lee (L) and Laura Ling
It is thought that the women were researching North Korean refugees

Two US journalists arrested by North Korea near its border with China will face trial on 4 June, North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency reports.

Euna Lee, a Korean-American, and Laura Ling, a Chinese-American, are charged with illegal entry after allegedly crossing from China and "hostile acts".

Some reports have suggested that they were arrested while on Chinese soil.

The US welcomed news of the trial date but said the charges against them were "baseless" and they should be freed.

The two, who were working for California-based internet broadcaster Current TV, were doing a story about refugees fleeing the communist North.

'No incentives'

The official KCNA news agency announced the trial date with a short statement.

Hillary Clinton: "We believe that the charges are baseless"

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in Washington that the fact that North Korea had set a trial date was "a signal that there can be... a resolution".

But she warned that the US was not interested in "chasing after" North Korea or offering it incentives to return to the negotiating table over its nuclear programme.

Washington has no diplomatic ties with Pyongyang, and the Swedish embassy has been acting on its behalf.

But the last the time the Swedish ambassador was able to see the reporters was on 30 March.

Reporters Without Borders, a group that campaigns for media freedom, says the two journalists could face up to 10 years of forced labour if convicted of "hostile acts".

Amnesty International has said it is highly unlikely the two women will face a fair trial because of the judicial system's lack of independence or transparency.




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