Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

Missing Australian student Alek Sigley released by North Korea

Swedish authorities helped to secure his release after he went missing while studying in Pyongyang

Australian student Alek Sigley, 29, who was detained in North Korea, arrives at Beijing international airport in Beijing, China, July 4, 2019. Reuters
Australian student Alek Sigley, 29, who was detained in North Korea, arrives at Beijing international airport in Beijing, China, July 4, 2019. Reuters

An Australian student detained in North Korea has been released and has left the country, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

"Mr Alek Sigley has been released from detention in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," Mr Morrison told his country's parliament.

News of Mr Sigley's detention came after his social media went quiet on June 25. He was studying in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

It is not known why Mr Sigley, 29, was detained, but the Australian Prime Minister said Swedish authorities helped secure his release.

"This outcome demonstrates the value of the discreet, behind the scenes work of officials in resolving complex and sensitive consular cases, in close partnership with other governments," Mr Morrison said, interrupting parliament to announce the news.

Australia has no official presence in North Korea so relies on Swedish authorities to conduct its diplomatic affairs.

Mr Sigley, whose wife is Japanese, will travel from Beijing to Tokyo. Studying a postgraduate degree in modern Korean literature, Mr Sigley is one of the few western students studying in the country.

North Korea's treatment of foreigners is a contentious issue, with some being held for years on accusations of spying.

Updated: July 4, 2019 10:09 AM

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