North Korea accuses freed Australian student of espionage

SEOUL (dpa)- North Korea has accused of espionage and "anti-state" activities an Australian student who was detained several days before being set free on Thursday.
The 29-year old Alek Sigley from Perth had not been in contact with his family and friends since June 24. He was released on Thursday and arrived overnight in Tokyo where his wife lives, after a brief stopover in Beijing.

North Korean state media said Sigley was "caught red-handed" and had "honestly admitted to his spying actions." He was accused of espionage as well as inciting crimes against North Korea over the internet.
Sigley, who speaks fluent Korean, specialized in guided educational tours to North Korea. In 2018, he began a master's degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, becoming one of the first Westerners to pursue long-term studies in the country.
Chad O'Carrol, head of NK News in Seoul, said Sigley had used a popular column on the site, which specializes in North Korea, to present an "apolitical and insightful view of life in Pyongyang."
"The idea that those columns, published transparently under his name between January and April 2019, are 'anti-state' in nature is a misrepresentation which we reject," O'Carrol said in a statement.
Sigley was freed with the help of Sweden, which maintains an embassy in Pyongyang, and has said he hopes to return to a normal life.
"I just want everyone to know I am OK, and to thank them for their concern for my well-being and their support for my family over the past week," Sigley said in a statement released from Tokyo on Friday.

Sunday, July 7th 2019

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