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. James from Cali

    Why are people giving Obama credit for anything? He had nothing at all to do with this; it took a Clinton to get this job done. Obama showed once again why he has no business being in the white house. Kudo's to the Clinton's not Obama. The questions is now, what happens to the Berkeley grads in Iran?

    August 5, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. Debra from Georgia

    Good Job, Mr. Former President. We are proud that you are part of our party. Also Good job to President Obama and his administration, becuase I would like to think that the Former President trip over there was supported by the Current President.

    For the two Journalist, next time find a story in the U. S. to report on and stay your A$$ away from other people Borders.

    August 5, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Island girl

    Blah, blah, Obama this and Obama that! Does anyone think that Bill Clinton went on his own? Even the pundits are speculating that this release was pre-arranged. Clinton's presence might have sealed the deal. If President Obama had to be everywhere at the same time then we would need a medical miracle to do that. Let's give thanks and praise!

    August 5, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. sky

    It seems, though, that every single accomplishment we have seen and continue to see only makes the far right angrier and I am beginning to really believe that they do not want this country to succeed unless their candidate is in office. These people have become the terrorists. Lets see how they turn this good thing into something negative. I am SO glad they represent only a small minority of this population.

    August 5, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. Jack in Florida

    Congratulations to Bill Clinton and the Obama Administration on bringing our fellow citizens home. DIALOGUE....IT IS ALL ABOUT DIALOGUE, not comboy diplomacy as our past administration was all about. Shame on the right wingers that see this as a weakness and that "north korea won." It is not about winning or losing but co habitating on this planet together.

    August 5, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. Dave

    The wonderful Christian Republicans would rather have seen these two women dead than have to admit that Clinton and Obama managed to do something than the Republicans would never have been able to do. And you know that's the truth.

    August 5, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Alex

    Kudos to former President Bill Clinton whose work in office and reputation made the release of the two journalists a reality. I do find it sad though that some people will now turn this wonderful feat into a Democrats vs Republicans issue. As a Republican, what this tells me is the the former theories of "Isolationism" do not work and George W. Bush was wrong in his approach (which is nothing new). It is good to see that many people are using the phrase "Country First" which is what all politics SHOULD be about. I see a rare quality in Bill Clinton no matter that he is a Democrat. It is unfortunate we haven't had a President like him in recent years who not only talks, but actually gets the job done.

    August 5, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    I doubt the opinions of those who are against President Obama in this post matter to the families of these two women or to the women themselves. No doubt they both are very grateful and relieved to be back on American soil.

    Congratulations to all of those who helped secure the freedom for Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

    Welcome back to America ladies.

    August 5, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. Rick in DC

    Bill will not be happy with this...obama supporters quickly takes credit for this....the obama admin had very little involvement in this humanitarian effort.....Pls thank Bill, Hillary, Gore and Team...

    August 5, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. I give up

    Expat American – you are such a hack and coward for the things you write. It figures, you are a left winger and only have the courage to say these things while you live outside the US.

    August 5, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. A-Wax

    Jeez, some of you are really bitter, negative people. Why can't you just be happy these ladies returned home safely, and keep it moving?

    Kudos to all involved

    August 5, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. Steve (the real one)

    Excellent! Just a word to those hating on the repubs.
    1. Please tell me just exactly what did Al Gore (a dem) do? They worked for him!
    2. What did President Carter (a dem) do?
    3. What did President Obama (a dem) do?
    4. Why is this political anyway?
    5. Stop placing blame, pointing fingers and just be glad they are home!
    6. Great job President Clinton and crew!

    August 5, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. Vet from Boston

    Job well done former President Clinton and former VP Al Core and company. President Obama: Much prasie for how you are running the administration. Your definately a kool operator. The GOP should step back and learn the inner parts of a community organizer.

    GREAT JOB WHITE HOUSE n President OBAMA and Clinton

    August 5, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Mississippi Mike

    What does it tell you when a former president is more capable at diffusing an international crisis than the current president? Obama is an amateur that needs to step down.

    August 5, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. Sabreen60

    I am so glad the young women are home with their families. For some who would denigrate President Obama perhaps in would be helpful if you understood that the sitting President did not go to NK because we do not have diplomatic relations with NK. This may also be why Secretary Clinton did not go. However, President Obama, former President Clinton, Bill Richardson, Secretary Clinton (according to news reports) have been working on this for weeks. It has also been reported that former President Clinton pretty much knew ahead of the trip that the women would be released. It would have been quite an embarrassment if the women were not released.

    August 5, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  16. p davis

    I am so proud of our leadership and the work that they do. to all the haters smile and get over it.

    August 5, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. Wake Up

    I completely dislike Obama's presidency. Great job Clinton! See Obama, he knows how to handle himself...unlike you. His picture is priceless. He doesn't bow to to world leaders and smile after talking with tyrants. Maybe Obama can learn some lessons from Clinton...god knows he needs someones help.

    August 5, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. vic nashville , Tn

    Happy ending

    Thanks to Bill Clinton

    One and only president we can trust

    August 5, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. mike

    Someone on Fox network last nite suggested Clinton should not have gone to N. Korea, and that the girls should have been left there. I would not have believed someone would say that if I hadn't heard it myself. Where is humanity? The far wing right is ruining any chance they have of ever getting someone elected if they don't lighten up by being so vile and mean spirited. Hannity, Beck and their ilk should learn to support, not destroy. I'm ashamed I am a Republican.

    August 5, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. Jon in CA

    YES – let's ignore REAL TRUTH... and just applaud images:

    Two women returning to the US from North Korea.

    Let's NOT ask:

    1) Why were they STUPIDLY hiking into North Korean territory? What was their objective?

    Reports suggest they wanted to interview oppressed North Korean people.

    2) WHAT did the US give up in return??

    NK has been saber-rattling, firing test missiles, violating UN resolutions by sending weapons-grade materials to our enemies..... and when they get a HUGE bargaining chip (2 american women)... they just blindly let them go???

    YEAH RIGHT!

    But hey...let's all just pretend nothing really is going on here.... and praise Obama and Clinton!!!

    August 5, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. Stacy from Leesburg, VA

    We get two detained citizens back and people complain? This country has problems. If Bush would have done this, I would have lauded his efforts as well. Not everything is liberal/conservative as the media wants us to believe, sometimes it is just good.

    August 5, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  22. mike

    Mississippi doens't understand politics. Maybe he should get more facts before looking so foolish.

    August 5, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  23. robert diogenes

    Three cheers to ex-pres Bill Clinton and the Obrama administration on getting the release of the two journalists from N. Korea. Again this shows the folly of the Bush administration's policy of big bluster and no conversation with troublesome regimes.

    August 5, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  24. daniel

    I am convinced that if President Obama cured cancer, ended poverty and discovered the waters of eternal life all before breakfast, Republicans would instantly swarm this message board with criticism and ugly cheap shots. The knee-jerk, foam-at-the-mouth, over-the-top hatred for everything this guy does, from rising in the morning to sleeping at night, says more about the haters than it does about the President. And I wonder, how many of those haters are church-going, Jesus-loving Christians? Didn't St. John say something like "If you hate, you don't know God, for God is love?" And didn't Jesus himself say, "Love your enemies?"

    August 5, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  25. Deborah/Kansas City

    Repbulican fear and hate mongers can always find a reason to ramp up their hatefulness and spew their negative views on everything. Way to go Presidents Obama and Clinton. Bravo for putting American's lives first and not political gain; as we saw so much of the opposite approach in the previous administration. Lets see, that makes Pirates who can't take Americans; and Crazy Dictators who can't take Americans. I'm sure it won't be long until we hear that those in Iran are coming home too. I am so inspired by the way this President is always on the job and making thigs better for us all.

    August 5, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
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