An Australian student was released Thursday after a week in detention in North Korea and flew to Beijing, where he described his condition to reporters as “very good.”
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced to Parliament that Alek Sigley, 29, had been released hours earlier following intervention from Swedish diplomats Wednesday.
Sigley looked relaxed when he arrived at Beijing airport. He did not respond to reporters’ questions about what had happened in Pyongyang.
“I’m OK, I’m OK, I’m good. I’m very good,” Sigley said.
His father, Gary Sigley, said his son would soon be reunited with his Japanese wife Yuka Morinaga in Tokyo.
“He’s fine. He’s in very good spirits. He’s been treated well,” the father told reporters in his hometown of Perth.
Swedish diplomats had raised Sigley with North Korean authorities in Pyongyang where Australia does not have an embassy.
“Alex is safe and well. Swedish authorities advised the Australian government that they met with senior officials from the DPRK yesterday and raised the issue of Alex’s disappearance on Australia’s behalf,” Morrison said, using the official name for North Korea.
Morrison thanked Swedish authorities for “their invaluable assistance in securing Alek’s prompt release.”
“This outcome demonstrates the value of discrete behind-the-scenes work of officials in resolving complex and sensitive consular cases in close partnership with other governments,” Morrison said.
The Pyongyang university student and tour guide lost contact with family and friends in Japan and Australia last Tuesday.
Morrison’s announcement was the first confirmation that he had been detained.