Published: Mon, July 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

N Korea accuses expelled Australian student of spying

N Korea accuses expelled Australian student of spying

Alek Sigley, the Australian student expelled Thursday from North Korea after being detained for ten days, was arrested for spying, the North Korean authorities in Pyongyang said Saturday.

According to the report, Sigley, who was studying at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, was "caught red-handed committing anti-DPRK incitement through internet" on June 25.

But North Korea's KCNA news agency said he collected data and photographs that he passed on to "anti-DPRK" media outlets.

"He honestly admitted his spying acts of systematically collecting and offering data about the domestic situation of the DPRK and repeatedly asked for pardon, apologizing for encroachment upon the sovereignty of the DPRK", the news agency said.

North Korea has accused Australian Alek Sigley of spying and spreading propaganda after releasing the student from detention. DPRK is the acronym for the North's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

North Korea on the overall accuses foreigners detained in its country of espionage or "hostile acts".

"It was a time of sensitivity in North Korea after the visit of (Chinese President) Xi Jinping and before the visit by Donald Trump", Petrov said.

O'Carroll called North Korea's claims about Sigley's work a "misrepresentation which we reject".

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It said his columns only "presented an apolitical view of life in Pyongyang".

On Friday, Sigley said he was planning to "return to normal life" but offered no details of his detention, adding he would not be conducting any interviews or holding a press conference.

Australian National University Korean expert Leonid Petrov, a friend of Mr Sigley, said Mr Sigley had made the mistake of believing the state looked favourably upon his online coverage of his life in North Korea.

Alek Sigley, 29, was reported missing in late June, but was freed on Thursday after Swedish officials in Pyongyang met the North Korean government. He also ran a travel agency in North Korea and married a Japanese woman a year ago in Pyongyang.

On Saturday, North Korea's affirm-slump knowledge company KCNA acknowledged that Mr Sigley had "on a bunch of times transferred knowledge, collectively with photos and prognosis, that he gathered whereas travelling to every corner of Pyongyang utilizing his put as an global student".

He also wrote op-eds and essays that appeared in the Western media, including NK News, although none of them seemed outwardly critical about the North's government and political system.

Two years ago, American student Otto Warmbier was released after he was taken captive by the North Korean regime during a brief sightseeing tour.

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