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American cameraman Mitch Koss released; RSF and the International Women's Media Foundation launch joint petition calling for the release of American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders and the International Women's Media Foundation (http:// ) have launched a joint petition calling for the immediate and unconditional release of reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who have now been held in North Korea for an entire week.

"Laura Ling and Euna Lee were taken into custody on the Chinese-North Korean border while reporting on the fate of North Korean refugees, and, more specifically, on the trafficking of women. Pyongyang authorities have no reason to hold them or to accuse them of illegal activities. They should be freed at once," the two organisations urged.

The two reporters are currently being held in Pyongyang by the authorities who have accused them of being spies who entered North Korea illegally. The North Korean government has allegedly claimed that they were being treated well, though independent sources have been unable to confirm this.

According to information gathered by Reporters Without Borders in South Korea and on the Chinese border, the two journalists, their cameraman, Mitch Koss, and their Chinese guide were on a reporting assignment for media outlet Current TV. Whether they actually crossed the border and were heading for North Korea has yet to be confirmed.

During a meeting with a Reporters Without Borders delegation, former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung stated on 26 March 2009 that he was certain that "North Korean authorities would soon release the two U.S. journalists."

Mitch Koss, Current TV's American cameraman, was allowed to leave China after Chinese authorities had held him for several days. He was with Euna Lee and Laura Ling at the time of their arrest on 17 March, but managed to escape from the North Korean border guards. Their guide, a Chinese citizen of North Korean origin, is apparently still being held by the Chinese police.

The two women were supposedly transferred to Pyongyang on 18 March.

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