Journalists freed from North Korean jail

Bill Clinton met with Kim Jong Il, leading to 'special pardon'

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has departed North Korea with two American journalists newly released by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il after he granted the pair a "special pardon."

"President Clinton has safely left North Korea with Laura Ling and Euna Lee. They are en route to Los Angeles, where Laura and Euna will be reunited with their families," Clinton's spokesman Matt McKenna said in a statement Tuesday.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, journalists for Al Gore's Current Media who have been detained in North Korea since March 17, are expected to arrive in the U.S. Wednesday morning.

"We want to thank the Obama Administration for its continuous and determined efforts to achieve this outcome, and President Clinton for his willingness to undertake this mission," said Current TV founders, Al Gore, who served two terms as vice president under Clinton, and Joel Hyatt, in a statement.

"All of us at Current are overjoyed at Laura and Euna's safe return. Our hearts go out to them -- and to their families -- for persevering through this horrible experience."

Reuters contributed to this report.