SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has issued a "special pardon" to two American journalists convicted of sneaking into the country illegally, and he ordered them released during a visit by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, North Korean media reported early Wednesday.
The release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee was a sign of North Korea's "humanitarian and peaceloving policy," the Korean Central News Agency reported.
Clinton, who arrived in North Korea Tuesday on an unannounced visit, met with the reclusive and ailing Kim — his first meeting with a prominent Western figure since his reported stroke nearly a year ago.
North Korea accused Ling, 32, and Lee, 36, of sneaking into the country illegally in March and engaging in "hostile acts," and the nation's top court sentenced them in June to 12 years of hard labor.
Thank God who has softened the hearts of the tyrants and blessed this mission with success, bringing these two prisoners to liberty once more. Please continue to pray for all the hostages and prisoners of conscience throughout the world.
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