North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has pardoned two American journalists convicted of illegally entering the reclusive nation, the Associated Press reports. Their release was ordered during a visit from former American president Bill Clinton, who was in Pyongyang hoping to discuss a variety of issues.
The journalists, Laura Ling, 32, and Euna Lee, 36, were arrested in March and accused of engaging in "hostile acts" after allegedly sneaking into the country. They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor by the nation's top court, which meant that they would likely be forced to serve out their sentences in one of North Korea's notorious labor camps. Their incarceration has made international headlines and led to considerable public outcry in places like the United States and South Korea.
During Clinton's visit, however, Kim Jong-il ordered the immediate release of the two journalists, and they can now return to the United States. According to the Korean Central News Agency, their release was a sign of North Korea's "humanitarian and peaceloving policy."