August 5th, 2009
09:53 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama applauds release of freed American journalists

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama applauded the release Wednesday of Euna Lee and Laura Ling - two American journalists who had been detained in North Korea since March.

"We are very pleased with the outcome," Obama said at the White House. Their release is a "source of happiness not only for the families (of the journalists) but for the entire country."

Obama thanked former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore for their roles in winning the release of Lee and Ling.

The two journalists were reunited with their families early Wednesday after Clinton secured their release in a brief trip to Pyongyang, North Korea's capital.

The aircraft transporting Lee, Ling, and Clinton to the United States touched down shortly before 6 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) amid tight security at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, just outside Los Angeles.

Listen: CNN's Ed Henry explains the administration's role in the journalists' return:



Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. DiBiase/Bad Newz, VA

    Hip Hip Hooray

    August 5, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. Lynne

    The Clinton camp and the Obama Camp have displayed what it really means to put country first as they buried the hatchet of the primaries and are now working to make the country and the world a better place!

    Kudos to all of them!!

    August 5, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  3. phoenix86

    Obama is willing to talk and support terrorist regimes. Clinton's trip, while freeing 2 American journalists, served to further legitimize the S. Korean dictatorship – resulting in the continued starvation and torture of millions.

    Congratulations Barack, you continue to play the fool quite well.

    August 5, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  4. Mark Cross Junction VA

    The perfect trade, Obama for the Reporters.

    August 5, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  5. Expat American

    Well done President Clinton and Vice President Gore.

    Bring on the GOP party rhetoric. I'd love to hear the 'Let's Kill Brown People and Torture Children' Republicans praise Clinton and Gore with the intent of disparaging President Obama. Truth is all three Democratic leaders made the GOP look like neutered rednecks.

    A portly pepper pot truly put this country at risk. Bush was a Hero. Palin is a victim and Jesus was an American. Country First!

    August 5, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. Ryan Indy

    Pretty Funny how all the democrats are patting themselves on the back and dont understand that North Korea got exactly what they wanted in getting world wide attention and an APOLOGY????. Now I do think Clinton was smooth as ever but what the heck did Al Gore do? Its also funny that democrats still talk smack about Bush on this when this has absolutely nothing to do with him? Democrats are still pathetic small people that cant let Bush go.....

    August 5, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. Lynn

    I am very very happy to see the two American women are now back to US.

    August 5, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. g

    why do americans keep doing stupid

    August 5, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. annie s

    Thank you to our present and former Presidents, former Vice President and our Secretary of State. Exceptionally well done!

    August 5, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  10. Larry

    Another terrific job by the Obama administration.

    If it were Bush the women would be doing 12 years of hard time.

    August 5, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  11. LIP

    We can all applaud the release of these two.
    Once the applause dies down, who will pay for this debacle?
    The two women were working for Al Gore, probably at his instructions, so does that make him responsible for all associated costs?
    Al obviously wanted another award and look where it took us. Kim Jung Il refused to see anyone except Bill, who just happened to be the guy Kim made false Nuclear proliferation promises to back during Bill's administration, so Kim gets Bill twice. This is liike a Hollywood script and we all know how Kim loves those Hollywood movies.

    August 5, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. LacrosseMom

    The release of these journalists is a huge success for SANE DIPLOMACY! I am proud of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Sec. of State Clinton, etc. All who helped free the two women.

    Once again, we SEE that SANE diplomacy actually gets you more than the far-right's idea of 'diplomacy' which is "bomb.......bomb........ attack!"

    Perhaps now, our war weary-cash-strapped Nation, can breathe a sigh of relief that President Obama wont be bombing N. Korea!

    We need some peace. Thank God that clear heads have prevailed!

    As the old saying goes, "keep your friends close & your enemies even closer" !

    August 5, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  13. Killbucket

    WHAT did this cost America? You NEVER get something for nothing, Bill.

    August 5, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. Polar Bears Against Palin

    What a refreshing change! If a Republican administration tried to free these women, they'd bomb half the country first, in doing so.

    August 5, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  15. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Notice how he DID NOT take credit for this?? Learn some class RepubliKlans. Have absolutely no doubt, however, that the release of these two young girls (who really had no business crossing over N. Korea's border) was the result of negotiating, and solicited cooperation from the White House. You know the place: where President Obama resides. A brilliant move by our President & Secretary of State Clinton. No one feels compelled to take credit because this administration is not into a bush-league power trip.

    This is the result of something called diplomacy, combined with the intelligence and good-will that is more than abundant in this new White House. Thank you President Obama, ex-Prez Cool Clinton, V.P Gore and Biden, & Sct'y of State Hillary Clinton ( the 'baddest' woman in gov't!).

    August 5, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  16. Veronica

    Very good news indeed...Welcome home ladies!

    August 5, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  17. Peejay

    The negative spin on this is already ramping up, but congratulations to everyone involved in accomplishing this diplomatic coup.

    August 5, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  18. Kevin in Ohio

    Glad they are free. But at what cost? What were they doing there in the first place? Left-wing reporters making a huge stupid mistake. Compunded, no doubt, by left-wing appeasement of a rogue terrorist state.

    August 5, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  19. Melissa

    As do I. Incredible. Obama knew exactly who to send in to fix the problem, and Bill Clinton is THE MAN.

    Have you noticed that the country is always better off when Democrats are in power?

    August 5, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  20. Sam Sixpack

    Too bad BHO didn't have time to help, he was too busy chugging beer with "stupid" cops.

    August 5, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  21. Jefe

    I've always wondered, when a former president, or other citizen (i.e. Jesse Jackson in the middle-east in the past), goes on a diplomatic mission, what are the parameters they operate under? Clinton must have been given some framework with which he was allowed to negotiate. Even without any "give and take", when dealing with North Korea, even what is said needs to fall under the auspices of the Executive. Further, what is the reason we send an "unofficial" Official?

    Not decrying the move, it worked, but it would be nice to know the details of all this.

    August 5, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. Alicia

    This is so wonderful!!!! I am so happy for the families.

    It is sad that President Clinton did not go back to North Korea before handing over the keys to the White House to Dubya. We know how that went. From negotiations to isolation called the Axis of Evil.

    August 5, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  23. g

    they should send goerge w bush to iran to free the hikers now

    August 5, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. Janet Glazier

    All I can say is The Republican Party had it all wrong when they said you can’t talk to your enemies.
    This administration proves that you get further with friendly diplomacy rather than fear,hate and threats .

    August 5, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  25. Phil

    Seriously, when are our fellow Americans going to stop acting foolishly? North Korea is a bad place that doesn't like us, so you sneak in or even get close to the border? Don't feed me the journalistic approach thing either. It's the same with the hikers who end up in Iran. Come on people. It is like complaining you got mugged when you jogged through a high crime area. These people are asking for trouble.

    August 5, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
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