Nobel Peace Prize and Academy Award winner Al Gore has been strangely silent during the tragic saga of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, American journalists recently sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in a North Korean gulag.
The two women on assignment for Current TV, an outfit founded by Gore, were accused of “grave crimes” (illegally entering the country) by the repressive regime. News reports inform us that North Korea's prison system is so brutal that only half of the people who enter it come out alive.
Reports about how the women were captured are mostly speculative, some experts claiming that they may have been apprehended by the North Koreans while working from China’s side of the border. They were working on a story about North Korea's trade in human trafficking.
They were detained mid-March, nearly three months ago, but not a word from Gore, whose international clout as a former U.S. Vice President—and as a recipient of a Nobel Prize—ought to be enough for him to come publicly to their defense.
Gore's silence is deafening.
In addition to clout—both as statesman and recipient of one of the world's highest honors—it would seem that Gore, as founder of the outfit these women work for, has a basic responsibility to go public and assure them and the world that he's doing everything in his power to get them released.
Yet, the only assurance we get with regard to Ling’s and Lee’s release comes from the White House: President Obama is considering sending Gore as part of a “high level” delegation to appeal for clemency on behalf of the women held by the North Koreans.
Gore, as a public figure with international status and appeal, and more importantly, as one who has direct ties to the outfit these women worked for, should step up to the plate and speak out on their behalf. §