Fri, 18 Oct 2019

Australian Student Detained, Deported by N. Korea Breaks Silence

Voice of America
10 Jul 2019, 08:05 GMT+10

An Australian student detained and later deported by North Korea has broken his silence on Twitter.

Alek Sigley, a 29-year-old studying Korean literature in the capital of Pyongyang, was detained Tuesday by North Korea. The country claimed that Sigley had spied and spread anti-state propaganda by providing photos and other information to critical news organizations.

Sigley had written about his experiences in North Korea on his blog and for numerous media outlets, including a series of six articles for NK News, an American media company covering the notoriously secretive country.

On Twitter, Sigley dismissed the accusation of spying, writing, "The allegation that I am a spy is (pretty obviously) false."

An NK News statement maintained that Sigley's articles had been for informational rather than political purposes.

"Alek Sigley's well-read columns presented an apolitical and insightful view of life in Pyongyang which we published in a bid to show vignettes of ordinary daily life in the capital to our readers," reads the statement, published Saturday.

After his deportation last week Thursday, Sigley arrived at the Australian embassy in Beijing and has since joined his wife in Tokyo, according to NK News.

On Twitter, he thanked the Australian prime minister and Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Swedish special envoy to North Korea, who traveled to the country last week. Sweden negotiated Sigley's release, as Australia doesn't have an embassy in Pyongyang.

"I loved being a student at Kim Il Sung University with all my heart," Sigley wrote on Twitter, expressing disappointment at being unable to finish his degree at Kim Il Sung University, or to visit Pyongyang and his friends.

Sigley confirmed online that he has no plans to return to North Korea. The student had been the only Australian and one of just a few foreigners living full time in the country.

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