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ABC News: Ling and Lee Could Return Home With Clinton

Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who have been jailed in North Korea since March, could be on their way home as early as the evening of Aug. 4.

ABC News’ Martha Raddatz is reporting that the journalists may leave North Korea with former President Bill Clinton, who arrived in the country early on Aug. 4 to negotiate their release.

Raddatz quoted a government source with knowledge of Clinton’s mission. The source said the women could fly home on Clinton’s plane.

The former president apparently had a very emotional meeting with Ling and Lee, who were sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labor. They were producing a report about North Korean refugees fleeing to China when they wandered over the China/North Korean border. They were quickly picked up by a military patrol.

Clinton also met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that Clinton “courteously” delivered a verbal message from President Obama. But White House press secretary Robert Gibbs denied that and continued to stress that Clinton’s mission was a “private” one.

Clinton’s former vice president, Al Gore, is a co-founder of Current TV. In June, reports surfaced that Gore would travel to North Korea on a mission to negotiate the release of the journalists. He never made the trip. Clinton’s mission was kept secret by the North Korean and U.S. governments until the former president was en route to North Korea.