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Posted : 2009-09-05 22:41
Updated : 2009-09-05 22:41

Controversy Persists on US Journalists Claims

The statement by the two U.S. journalists, freed from their detainment in North Korea, that they were dragged by North Korean soldiers while they were inside Chinese territory, met with repudiation from the Chinese government, VOA said Saturday.

Breaking a month of silence since they returned home in the U.S., the two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, working for Current TV, a San Francisco-based Internet outlet co-founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, said at the time of their arrest they were in the Chinese land.

“We were firmly back inside China when the soldiers apprehended us,” they said in a long piece on the company’s Web site.

They first acknowledged that they indeed entered the North Korean territory. But “we didn't spend more than a minute on North Korean soil before turning back,” they said. “Feeling nervous about where we were, we quickly turned back toward China.”

They said they were “violently” dragged back by North Korean border guards, who chased them, across the ice to North Korea.

The Chinese government rejected the pair’s claim. In a regular press briefing on Thursday, the foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, “We checked it with competent authorities” and discovered “there was no such thing” as what the U.S. journalists described. She didn’t elaborate.

On June 17, the North Korean government explained the circumstances surrounding the pair’s arrest in its official newspaper, Rodong Shinmun, in detail.

According to North Korea, the two women entered the North Korean territory and filmed the place with their video camera. They even recorded a comment that said, “We just entered the North Korean territory without permission,” and even picked a pebble as a souvenir from the forbidden land.

“If North Korean soldiers came across to the Chinese territory to arrest them, then this could become a potential diplomatic issue between North Korea and China,” VOA said.

sunny.lee@koreatimes.co.kr

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