Update at 2310 KST: This article has been updated to include details of Sigley’s arrival in Japan.
Australian citizen Alek Sigley, last week feared detained in North Korea, was on Thursday confirmed to be “safe and sound” and in China, sources familiar with the situation told NK News.
He traveled onwards to Tokyo, where his wife lives, later in the day, arriving just before 2300 local time.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday also confirmed the news, telling the country’s parliament in a statement that Sigley was “safe” and that the Swedish delegation had helped secure his release.
“Mr Alek Sigley has been released from detention in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Morrison said. “Swedish authorities advised they met with senior officials with the DPRK and raise the issue of Alex’s disappearance.”
“We were advised that the DPRK have released him from detention and he has safely left the country and I can confirm that he has arrived safely,” he continued.
“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Swedish authorities for their invaluable assistance in securing Alek’s prompt release, which demonstrates the value of discrete behind-the-scenes work by officials in solving sensitive consular cases in close partnership with other governments.”
— Dougal Wallace? (@DougalWallace) July 4, 2019
Sigley runs the Tongil Tours tour company and had been studying for a masters’ degree at Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung University as one of the few foreigners living full-time in the DPRK capital — an experience he wrote about in a series of articles on his personal blog and for NK News.
He was last heard from last Tuesday, and had since fallen silent on social media.
Sigley’s apparent release follows a visit to the DPRK by a special envoy of the Swedish government — a visit which many had speculated was tied to his mystery disappearance.
His father, Gary Sigley, reportedly said he was “over the moon” about the news of the release.
“We’re just so happy now that that situation has been resolved and that we know he’s safe and sound in Beijing and in the care of the Australian Embassy, and I am sure they will treat him very well,” he said.
“So I understand now he is talking to his wife, so I’m sure I’ll speak to him sometime today when we get a chance. I am just so happy to know that he is safe and sound.”
Featured image: Alek Sigley