July 07, 2019
Alek Sigley | AP
SEOUL – North Korea said Saturday that an Australian student who was released by the country after being detained for a week had spread anti-Pyongyang propaganda and engaged in espionage by providing photos and other materials to news outlets with critical views toward the North.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), said the North deported Alek Sigley on Thursday after he pleaded for forgiveness over his activities, which the agency said infringed on North Korea’s sovereignty.
Sigley arrived in Tokyo on Thursday after telling reporters he was in “very good” condition, without saying what happened to him.
He had been studying at a Pyongyang university and guiding tours in the North Korean capital before disappearing from social media contact with family and friends.
KCNA said Sigley abused his status as a student by “combing” through Pyongyang and providing photos and other information to news sites such as NK News and other “anti-DPRK” media, a reference to the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The news agency said the North expelled Sigley out of “humanitarian leniency.”
KCNA said Sigley had “honestly admitted that he had been spying (on us) by collecting our internal information and sharing with others and repeatedly asked for our forgiveness for infringing on our sovereignty.”
Sigley was released by North Korea following intervention by Swedish diplomats. After Sigley’s arrival in Beijing, he went to Tokyo to reunite with his wife, who is Japanese.
North Korea has been accused in the past of detaining Westerners and using them as political pawns to gain concessions.
Source: AP, AFP-JIJI