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. montag

    Welcome back, ladies. Well done, President Clinton!

    A good day for America and a win-win for everybody.

    August 5, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. IndependentlyMinded

    What about the other 10's of thousands of political prisoners in North Korea? Aren't they not worth buddying up to evil too??

    August 5, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. Texas

    Diplomacy works. If the GOP were in charged, I'm certain blood would have been shed. Now we have the idiots on Fox complaining tht we had to apologize just to get these heroines released. I am certain that the majority of this nation would agree that better words than blood. Get over yourselves GOPs, we can't bully everyone. They are home alive and that's all that matters.

    August 5, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  4. Tatianna

    Yes, Americans extremely happy journalists are home. But questions need to be answered on what was negotiated and who in Obama admin negotiated. I for one see right through the facade Clinton and Gore did this alone. Team Obama didnt want Americans and the world at large to see them making back room deals with a tyrant of a terrorist state. So they asked Clinton to go over to NKorea and play the part. Bubba agreed, thinking this will improve his sullen legacy. We all know as president, Slick Willy gave water reactors to NKorea, thats why little Kim smiles standing next to Bubba. The release had been in the workings for weeks. Lets hope a foreign press or govt will tell us what really happened because we all know Team Obama doesnt display transparency. Lets pray they didnt givn up some thing that may haunt us.

    August 5, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. dominican mama 4 Obama

    I am so thrilled at the cooperation between these two Presidents, and the wonderful results that it netted.

    Sooo...when are Bush and Cheney leaving for Iraq?

    August 5, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. carlo

    One of the reasons why I like him is that he isn't afraid to share the spotlight, even with people he has had issue with. He's a real man. He knows when to step back.

    August 5, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  7. clr

    It took a CLINTON to get these out. Obama is just a weakling in office.

    Gooooo Clinton! Now go get Hillary back in running this country... put Obama over in the time-out corner for being such a doofus.

    August 5, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. Susie

    Imagine – Obama HAPPY about something – well at lest Bill Clinton ACCOMPLIHES!!!!

    August 5, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. dee

    Good. Now take their passports and bill Gore's media group for whatever it cost to retrieve these individuals.

    August 5, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. FAYE, NV

    What a great relief we all feel. Thanks to Clinton/Gore.

    August 5, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. white female

    Good Job, PRESIDENT OBAMA AND COMPANY.
    This is how a country should be run, With all smart heads on the same page, Clinton's, Gore, and all the obama's admin's working together. (Please take note all Repubs, and conservaties cable chatters). And stop the foolishness fear mongering to the country.

    August 5, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Irma in North Carolina

    Yes this is a wonderful day for americans that these two are safely back on american soil. Many thanks to the Obama adminstration and too former president Bill Clinton for pulling this off. Wonder what the republicans will have to say about this.

    August 5, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  13. American Voice

    Welcome Home Girls... remember – no Spying anymore!

    August 5, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. Doraine Gordon

    It is just wonderful that these two ladies are home. The great part is that it was our own Bill Clinton who went over there and brought them back. What is even greater than that is how everything was kept a secret until it happened. It is so amazing that the stinking Republicans can't find out anything that is going on until it happens. That's what just tears them up. The Democrats have all kinds of plans and the Republicans don't have a single one. All they can do is sit on their behinds and critisize the Democrats. They are just so jealous and envious. They are to be pittied!

    August 5, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. RealityKing

    North Korea has always welcomed Clinton's idea of big carrots/no stick approach to foriegn relations..

    August 5, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  16. Clinto should be President

    Everyone should applaud former President Clinton for allowing himself to be used as North Korean "propaganda". Hillary should have been elected rather than Obama and his group of Merry Men (rob the rich – give to the poor) who seem to know nothing of how to run the executive branch and seem only focused upon their socialist agenda.

    August 5, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. Scott, Tucson

    Why did Al Gore's outfit sent those two women sneaking into N. Korea in the first place?

    August 5, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  18. Pete East

    This was not even Clinton's idea. It was Kim Jong Il's, and Clinton was only too happy to oblige.

    Never the less, the jounalists are free, and that's good.

    By the way, North Korea's nuclear weapons program is still trucking right along.

    August 5, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. makesUwonder

    So, what did we have to give them Barry. We all know it was big, and in time we will find out, but why keep us waiting?

    August 5, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. Julia

    Diplomacy at it's best. Thank you President Obama and former President Bill Clinton. Great Job

    August 5, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. AMB

    Well done President Clinton. I know this man was flawed as all us humans are but this was that last person IMO that was worthy of the title and job Of the President of the United States.

    August 5, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. Paul from Phoenix

    Maureen Dowd said it right. Sending Bill to North Korea, only weeks after Hillary slammed Pyongyang as a whiny children looking for attention, is one of the biggest insults Obama could have ever leveled on Hillary.

    He basically said: "Hillary, you are not a good enough diplomat to get anything done, so on the day you start a long trip to Africa, I am going to send your more successful husband to fix what you obviously can't fix."

    August 5, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. debbie

    Well well well. How about that – talk to the enemy and get what you want. How novel. No sabre-rattling, chest-thumping, etc. And I don't see anywhere that our President thanked president nut-case in NKorea... sending Bubba was enough to assuage the super-ego to do what he knew he'd have to do all along.

    Somewhere in the back of the minds of these bullies HAS to be the reminder that our President did, after all, authorize those Navy SEALS to take out hostage-holding pirates. He may not be big on invasion, but he's no wimp.

    August 5, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. Zion

    What you mean diplomacy can work? You mean not walking in a pretending like everyone else is a savage does not work? What? You mean a white man and a black man worked together to free these young women. What? Hey GOP let me hand you the color green, go paint yourselves with envy.

    August 5, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  25. ex-republican

    I know that this is to late now, but we should offer them few right-wings idiots (phoenix86, TCM,etc.) for this 2 ladies. Actualy, we could give them a lot more of them, but what NK would do with them? They are useless anyway.

    August 5, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
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