Laura Ling, Euna Lee Return to U.S.

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Laura Ling and Euna Lee are safely back on American soil, a day after the two American journalists were released from custody in North Korea.

"We're home and free," Ling said in her first comments after landing.

Lee, 36, and Ling, 32, came back with former president Bill Clinton, who met with North Korea's leader Kim Jong II and helped secure a pardon for the two women, who were sentenced to 12 years for illegally entering the country.

They flew home on a private plane owned by Steve Bing, a wealthy Clinton friend and donor (and reported former boyfriend of Jennifer Aniston) who is the owner of Shangri-La Entertainment, which owns the Boeing 737.

After departing Pyongyang, North Korea, their plane touched down shortly before 6 a.m. at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California.

Family members there to greet them included Ling's husband Iain Clayton, her parents, her sister Lisa Ling and Lisa's husband Paul Song. From the Lee family were Lee's husband Michael Saldate, and 4-year-old daughter Hana.

At 6:16 a.m. the two journalists deplaned and both separately embraced their families in what could only be categorized as highly emotional reunions.

"We're going to let these families have a proper and full reunion," former Vice President Al Gore, who was also instrumental in their return, later said.

Bill Clinton chose not to speak, but released a statement.

"I am very happy that after this long ordeal, Laura Ling and Euna Lee are now home and reunited with their loved ones," it read.

"When their families, Vice President Gore and the White House asked that I undertake this humanitarian mission, I agreed. I share a deep sense of relief with Laura and Euna and their families that they are safely home."

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Laura Ling Biography

Laura Ling is the sister of talk show host Lisa Ling. She's a journalist that crossed the border of North Korea in March 2009 and is now... More »
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Laura Ling