A Letter from Lisa Ling

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Candlelight vigils were held in 9 cities June 3 as American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee are in court in North Korea facing charges of "illegal entry" and "hostile acts."
Read tonight's message from Laura Ling's sister, Lisa.

After more than two months of silence hoping that their daughters would be released through diplomatic channels, the Ling and Lee families have now gone public to plead for their daughter' safe return home.

UPDATE June 3, 2009 11pm PST

Message read at all 9 vigils, June 3rd - Trial Day for Laura and Euna:

Statement by Lisa Ling

On behalf of the families of Laura and Euna, I thank you. Words cannot express how moved we are that you have all come out here to support the girls. To the organizers and volunteers of this unbelievable grassroots movementat last count there were 9 vigils happening in cities across the U.S.--we are awed and deeply humbled by your efforts. Some of you we know, many of you we dont, most of you dont even know Laura and Euna. But tonight, we are forever linked.

It is the morning of June 4, in Pyongyang, North Korea. As we stand here tonight, it is entirely possible that my sister Laura and Euna Lee are standing trial in a North Korean courtroom. I know they are scared.

They are being charged with illegal entry and hostile acts. My sister is strong, but there is nothing hostile about her. Euna is the mother of the most angelic 4-year-old daughter, hardly a threatening character.

As many of you may have heard from some of the interviews our families did on Monday, the details of what happened on the day that Laura and Euna were arrested are vague. But I will say with absolute certainty, that when they left U.S. soil, they never intended to cross the border into North Korea. If at any point they did, we are truly sorry and we know the girls are too.

What they set out to do almost three months ago was to tell the world a story: one that will go untoldat least for now. As someone who knows a little something about journalism, I will tell you that there is no better feeling than when your work opens peoples eyeswhen it provokes people thinkto see things differently and understand people in a way they may have never before. I know that what Laura and Euna were trying to do was give people a voice.

In doing so, THEIR voices were silenced. They have been crying out loud in isolation, but their cries of anguish have gone unheard. By being here tonight, you are saying that you hear them.

What I heard last Tuesday night when I got an unexpected phone call was my best friends trembling voice. It was the first time Id heard her in more than two months. Li, its me, she said, I need your help.

My sister said that the only hope that she and Euna had to get released was if our government and North Koreas communicated directly. I know that youve been trying to get other countries involved, she said, but our only hope is if OUR countries talk.

It seems so simple, why doesnt someone in OUR government pick up the phone and call someone from THEIR government? Well, that would be far too easy. Right now, the only way the U.S. communicates with North Korea is through a third party, neutral country.

Its ironic that diplomacy is defined as the art and practice of conducting negotiations between states or countries. Yet, if states or countries refuse to talk directly to one another, there can be no real diplomacy. While we wish this were all a bad dream, the reality is that in the midst of this unfortunate situation and escalating geopolitical tension, there exists a golden opportunity for a fresh start between our two countries. Instead of trying to get re-acquainted with one other through missile launches, nuclear tests and terse rhetoric, why not get to know each another over two amazing girls who just wanted to tell a story?

Perhaps Laura and Euna can be the catalyst for ushering in a new era of diplomacy.

As they stand in that courtroom, alone and afraid, we thank YOU for standing here behind them and not letting their voices go unheard.

With peace, love and profound appreciation,

Lisa Ling on behalf of the families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee

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UPDATE June 1, 2009

Hi everyone, it's Lisa Ling. Firstly, our families are deeply grateful for your support and efforts to try to secure the release of Laura and Euna. To say that this has been stressful would be to grossly understate how hard this has been. Our families have been very quiet because of the extreme sensitivity of the situation, but given the fact that our girls are in the midst of a global nuclear stand-off, we cannot wait any longer.

We have to speak out!

Our families will be on the Today Show on NBC in the 7AM block on Monday morning --3 days before the June 4 trial (taking the time difference in consideration). We will also be on the Larry King show on CNN Monday night as well. Please help us urge both our government and North Korea's to resolve this humanitarian issue. Help us stand up for truth and two girls who just wanted to tell the world a story.

My deepest and most sincere thanks,
Lisa