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North Korea releases detained Australian student

CANBERRA (Australia): Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Alek Sigley, who went missing in North Korea last week, has been released and is safe.

The release came after a meeting between officials from the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang and the North Korean government.

Australia does not have its own embassy in the North Korean capital.

Sigley, 29, was pursuing a master’s degree and running a tourism business in Pyongyang.

The news of his release was first reported by specialist website NK News which said he was safely in China and would travel on to Japan.

Alek Sigley was one of very few foreigners living in Pyongyang

“I’m ok, yeah, I’m good, I’m very good,” Mr Sigley is seen saying on footage on his arrival in Beijing, according to Australian media.

It is not known why the student, a fluent Korean speaker, had been detained.

“We are pleased to announce that Mr Alek Sigley has today been released from detention in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). He is safe and well.” Mr Morrison told parliament.

He said Swedish authorities had met with senior officials from the DPRK on Wednesday and “raised the issue of Alek’s disappearance on Australia’s behalf”.

“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Swedish authorities for their invaluable assistance.”

Sweden is one of few Western countries that have an embassy in North Korea and often acts as intermediary for countries that don’t.