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Freed reporter hopes story helps others

LOS ANGELES (AP) — One of the two TV reporters who were freed after being imprisoned in North Korea said Tuesday she hopes her story will lead to more public awareness of the plight of journalists held captive around the world.

Laura Ling said word got back to her during her 41/2 months of incarceration about the efforts of strangers and others to gain the release of her and fellow reporter Euna Lee.

"In times of extreme darkness and depression, I thought of all of the people, united together, sending us messages of love and hope," she said in a message posted on a Web site originally established to lobby for their freedom.

Lee posted a similar message Tuesday.

The reporters were apprehended March 17 after crossing into North Korea from China while working on a story for San Francisco-based Current TV about trafficking of women.

They were convicted of entering the country illegally and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. Both were freed last week after former President Bill Clinton met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

"I would not be here today, home and free, reunited with my family (my sister is actually asleep on the couch right by my side), if not for the support from so many extraordinary people," Ling wrote.

She added that she hopes her ordeal would bring more attention to the plight of other journalists placed under arrest.

"Euna and I are two of the lucky ones whose story of captivity resulted in a happy ending," she said. "But there are so many journalists imprisoned around the world whose fate is still undecided."