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Australian student expelled from North Korea says he was kidnapped from dorm

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Australian student expelled from North Korea says he was kidnapped from dorm

By Hyonhee Shin

 

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FILE PHOTO: Australian student Alek Sigley, who was detained in North Korea, arrives at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Japan July 4, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

 

SEOUL (Reuters) - An Australian student who was briefly detained in North Korea last year over spy charges said he had been kidnapped by secret police and forced to make a false confession, according to an article written by him and seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

 

Alek Sigley was held for nine days from June 25 while studying for a postgraduate degree in modern Korean literature at the prestigious Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

 

He was expelled from the country after Swedish officials helped broker his release.

 

North Korean state media KCNA said he had admitted his “spying acts” including passing data and photos he collected by utilising his status as a foreign student to “anti-state” media outlets.

 

Beyond denying that he was a spy and saying he was sad to have lost access to North Korea, Sigley has not previously publicised details of his detention.

 

In his first-hand account carried by a South Korea magazine, Sigley said that what appeared to be agents from the Stasi-like State Security Department, known as bowibu, “kidnapped” him from his dorm at the university.

 

“I was innocent but they filed false charges against me,” he wrote, without elaborating.

 

“They endlessly tried to teach me some kind of lessons by forcing me to make a written confession which was a concoction of fabricated evidence and crimes and illogical legal reasonings.”

 

Sigley said on Twitter on Wednesday he had avoided speaking directly to the media in favour of telling his story “in my own words”.

 

The article was printed in North Korea Monthly, published by the Seoul-based North Korea Research Institute, and included stories from his childhood and details about the lives of international students in North Korea.

 

During his detention, Sigley said he had “no idea” when he would be released because he was “completely cut off” from the outside world, while Australian officials were scrambling to secure his freedom with other countries.

 

“They succeeded in teaching me one lesson: the falsehood of the North Korean legal system,” he said.

 

During his time in North Korea, Sigley had published articles about daily life for NK News and other specialised websites.

 

The treatment of foreign citizens by the secretive North has sometimes become a geopolitical issue.

 

The death of American student Otto Warmbier in 2017 following his 17-month detention in North Korea lead to a spike in tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

 

Warmbier was detained in 2016 and sentenced to 15 years of forced labour after being accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster in his hotel. He was returned to the United States in a coma and died soon after.

 

North Korea, heavily sanctioned over its nuclear weapons and missile programmes, has expressed frustration at stalled denuclearisation talks with the United States.

 

U.S. officials say North Korea must take more concrete steps to dismantle its weapons programmes before sanctions can be eased.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-01-15

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Sorry, I truly he IS guilty as charged or Completly stupid. His parents too. What portion of the brain DNA would make you want to go to North Korea. How many Australians go there anyway. Poor guy, I always feel for the poor and the stupid.

 

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That’s one lucky sob thank god

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He is very lucky to be free, but then he's not from the US and that had to be in his favor.  It should serve as a warning to all Westerners not to go there.

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"During his time in North Korea, Sigley had published articles about daily life for NK News"

I thought I was gonna read that he was a religious-type trying to spread the word.

Even in Thailand, though generally free compared with NK, we know that there are certain things that are off-limits, even as a green tourist I was aware of that

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21 hours ago, snoop1130 said:

“They succeeded in teaching me one lesson: the falsehood of the North Korean legal system,” he said.

Amazing.  He really needed to be taught this lesson?  This guy is pretty darn lucky he didn't go home like Otto. 

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So let me get this straight - the guy was studying for a post-graduate degree in modern Korean Literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, then for whatever reason they decided he was being subversive, arrested him on trumped up charges, then eventually let him leave after a few weeks.

And this is something that he is being condemned for, called an idiot, and otherwise being insulted on this forum? If you were going to study modern Korean Literature, why wouldn't you go there to study if it had something of interest? I don't get it. 

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