China disputes US journalists' account of North Korea capture

Beijing : The Chinese government Thursday disputed two US journalists’ account of their capture at the border between China and North Korea, saying it believed that the two women were not seized on Chinese territory.

“According to the understanding of relevant departments, they did not find the situation as you described it,” foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu told reporters when asked about the journalists’ claim that North Korean border guards chased them across the border before arresting them.

Jiang declined to elaborate on China’s version of the incident March 17, following which Laura Ling and Euna Lee were held for five months in North Korea before they were released last month.

Ling and Lee, reporters for Current TV, wrote on the website of the Los Angeles Times Wednesday that they were captured after briefly crossing a frozen river that marked the border between China and North Korea and which was often used as a human trafficking route.

They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labour but were pardoned after former US president Bill Clinton flew to Pyongyang and interceded with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il on their behalf.

The journalists said they were aware they were crossing the border, but were already back on the Chinese side of the line when the North Korean guards dragged them back over the border to an army camp.

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