North Korea to put U.S. journalists on trial in June

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Thursday it would put two U.S. journalists it arrested in March on trial on June 4, further ratcheting up tension after a defiant rocket launch and a threat to conduct a nuclear test.

Euna Lee and Laura Ling, of U.S. media outlet Current TV, were arrested along the North Korea-China border accused of illegally entering North Korea with "hostile" intent and Pyongyang said they face criminal charges.

"The Central Court of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) decided to try the American journalists on June 4 according to the indictment of the competent organ," the North's official KCNA news agency said in a one-sentence dispatch.

Washington has said it was in touch with the North through various channels to secure the release of the two journalists, with details of their pre-dawn arrest still murky several months after they were taken into custody.

North Korea, which has pulled out of six-party talks with regional powers aimed at reining in its nuclear ambitions, has said it is useless to talk to the government of U.S. President Barack Obama, accusing it of continuing what it saw as a hostile policy aimed at toppling Pyongyang's leaders.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Jack Kim; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Article Published: 14/05/2009