Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the Parliament that Alek Sigley had been released from detention in North Korea and was leaving the country.
An Australian who went missing in North Korea and was feared detained has now been released and is “safe and well”.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that Alek Sigley, originally from Perth, had been released from detention in North Korea and has left the country.
“Alek is safe and well,” Morrison told the Australian Parliament.
“We were advised that the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) have released him from detention and he has safely left the country and I can confirm that he has arrived safely.
“On behalf of the Australian Government I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Swedish authorities for their invaluable assistance in securing Alek’s prompt release, which demonstrates the value of discreet behind-the-scenes work by officials in solving sensitive consular cases in close partnership with other governments.
“I’m sure we all could not be more pleased.”
— Australian House of Representatives (@AboutTheHouse) July 4, 2019
Sigley arrived in Bejing, China, telling reporters he was “great”, but declining to answer any questions about his detention.
“I’m fine. I’m very good,” he said.
— Dougal Wallace📺 (@DougalWallace) July 4, 2019
Alek Sigley has been freed from detention in North Korea after an intervention by Swedish government officials. Photo: Twitter
He was accompanied by Swedish Government envoy Kent Rolf Magnus Harstedt, and was ushered out of the airport by an embassy vehicle shortly afterwards.
According to NK News, Sigley would travel to Tokyo, Japan, later today, to be reunited with his Japanese wife Yuka Morinaga.
“He’s fine. He’s in very good spirits. He’s been treated well,” the father Gary told reporters in his hometown of Perth.
He also thanked the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and “all those working in the background who helped bring this about”.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said Swedish diplomats met with North Korean officials on Australia’s behalf on Wednesday to discuss Sigley’s disappearance.
She said Sigley’s father had been informed about his son’s release.
“He is enormously relieved and grateful and … the family has asked that we convey the thanks to everyone who has helped and expressed support for them over the past several days,” Senator Payne told the Senate.
“On behalf of the Australian Government may I express our deepest gratitude to Swedish authorities for their prompt and invaluable assistance in securing Alek’s prompt release.”
The 29-year-old Sigley was studying a postgraduate degree at Kim Il-Sung University in Pyongyang and worked as a self-employed tour company operator.
Alarms were raised last week when Sigley disappeared and all his social media accounts were unused.
Sigley has been interviewed about life in the notoriously secretive country by a number of media organisations, including Sky News, The Guardian and Public International Radio(PRI).
It is not known why he was arrested and detained but three months ago, Sigley wrote an article for The Guardian in which he talked about being able to move around the capital unchaperoned and dine wherever he liked.
In February he was featured in an article for PRI titled ‘Twitter and Cocoa Pops: The surprising life of a student in North Korea’.