Journalists Pardoned in N. Korea, Headed Home

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After being held as prisoners in North Korea for nearly five months, Laura Ling and Euna Lee are heading home to American soil.

The women were pardoned after former President Bill Clinton paid a visit to the rogue nation's leader.

Their release follows weeks of negotiations that ended with a surprise visit by Clinton Tuesday morning.

CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck discusses why he thinks former U.S. President Bill Clinton was the right man for the job in negotiating the release of the two U.S. journalists from North Korea.

Click here to see why he said there may also be some propaganda value in the aftermath of Clinton's visit to North Korea.

The women were sentenced to 12 years hard labor for allegedly crossing the North Korean border with China and engaging in "hostile acts." The journalists were in the region reporting on human trafficking for former Vice President Al Gore's Current TV network.
    
Clinton reportedly held an emotional meeting with the pair after talks with North Korean President Kim Jong Il.
    
Donald Gregg, former ambassador to South Korea, said Clinton was right for the job.

"I think he is the best choice because at the end of the term he presided over the high-water mark of relations between North Korea and the U.S," he said.

Clinton's visit came amid an international standoff over the country's expanding nuclear program.

North Korean leaders have flexed their muscles recently launching several long-range missiles, conducting a nuclear test and abandoning talks on nuclear disarmament.

The North's state run TV reports Clinton and Kim Jong Il held "exhaustive" talks and engaged in a wide-ranging conversation on matters of "common concern."
    
State reports also indicate Clinton delivered a message from President Barack Obama, however, the White House has denied the claim.

"Our focus right now is ensuring the safety of the two journalists," White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
       
In exchange for the journalists, Kim Jong Il received a high profile visit from a former president, who just happens to be married to the current secretary of state.
    
Some fear the negotiation for the release of the journalists will be confused with America's interest in halting the nation's development of nuclear weapons.
     
But to the families of the two journalists, none of that matters. They are getting their loved ones back.
    
In a statement, the families said they are overjoyed by the pardon and counting the seconds until they are able to hold the women in their arms.

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Jennifer Wishon

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.