Two Orange County representatives in the U.S. Congress came out strongly today against North Korea's harsh sentencing of 12 years hard labor for two U.S. journalists charged with "hostile acts." The other four Members of Congress were silent.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) emailed the Weekly the following statement:
"I am deeply concerned by reports that two U.S. citizens and California reporters have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor on charges of illegally crossing into North Korea from China. The North Korean government has blatantly denied Laura Ling and Euna Lee their rights to free speech and a fair trial. I echo the calls of the Department of State for the North Korean government to cease using these women as political pawns and swiftly release them on humanitarian grounds."
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, posted a fiery satement on his website that places the responsibility for the reporters' safe return to the U.S. squarely on the shoulders of Barack Obama:
"One of President Obama's highest priorities must be to protect American citizens. President Obama himself must make it clear that this action cannot stand. Period. Now is the time for urgent action."
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Ling and Lee have been held in North Korea since March. A month later, Royce raised their case in a face-to-face conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, handing her a personal letter and pressing for urgent action.
"These court proceedings were a cruel joke-nothing more than a kangaroo court," Royce's statement continues. "I know of no 'justice' system in North Korea. The two should be immediately released.
"As if there were any doubts, the North Korean regime has shown its true colors-a hostile regime bent on destroying the lives of its own citizens and others. These two wouldn't have been near North Korea were it not for the barbaric cruelty of its regime. Ling and Lee were convicted of so-called 'grave crimes.' The regime commits real grave crimes against millions of North Koreans every day."
No statements were sent from or carried on the websites of Reps. Ken Calvert (R-San Clemente), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), George Miller (R-Brea), nor John Campbell (R-Newport Beach)--although Campbell has left up a statement against North Korea's missile launches last month.