Bill Clinton Seeks Release of Imprisoned Current TV Journalists

Former president travels to North Korea on private mission to free Laura Ling and Euna Lee

Former President Bill Clinton arrived in North Korea early in the morning of Aug. 4 to attempt to negotiate the release of jailed American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

The mission is a private one, but one undertaken with the blessing of the White House.

"While this solely private mission to secure the release of two Americans is on the ground, we will have no comment," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement. "We do not want to jeopardize the success of former President Clinton's mission."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been quietly negotiating for the journalists' release. Lee and Ling have been incarcerated in North Korea since March when they were picked up by a military patrol after entering the country from China. They were working on a report for Current TV, co-founded by Clinton's former vice president, Al Gore, about North Korean refugees fleeing into China. In June they were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor.

The former president's trip comes at a delicate time in U.S./North Korean relations; North Korea has acted particularly aggressively, testing nuclear devices and launching multiple ballistic missiles.

Executives at Current TV have maintained a steady silence on the matter.


Analysis: Waiting for Ling and Lee

What lessons can we learn—both diplomatic and journalistic—from Current TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee about their five months in North Korean captivity? We’re still waiting.