Alek Sigley Won't Be Giving Interviews About His Disappearance
Mystery still surrounds the detention of Alek Sigley, who says he won't be giving any interviews about his experience.
Sigley, a Perth man living in Pyongyang, vanished without a trace last week.
His family was worried about his sudden disappearance, as he had not made contact for several days. On Thursday, it was announced he had been in North Korean detention and had now been released. The 29-year-old arrived in Beijing on Thursday and later boarded a flight to Tokyo to reunite with his wife.
"I'm OK, I'm OK, yeah. I'm good. I'm very good... great," he briefly told reporters at Beijing airport on his arrival from North Korea on Thursday, before moving on and leaving the media behind.
On Friday, a media statement in his name was circulated. He said he would not be giving any interviews, and stayed mum about how he ended up in North Korean detention.
"I just want everyone to know I am OK, and to thank them for their concern for my wellbeing and their support for my family over the past week. I’m very happy to be back with my wife, Yuka, and to have spoken with my family in Perth to reassure them I’m well," Sigley said.
"I intend now to return to normal life but wanted to first publicly thank everyone who worked to ensure I was safe and well."
He sent special thanks to Sweden’s Special Envoy to North Korea, Kent Rolf Magnus Harstedt, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and foreign affairs minister Marise Payne.
“There are many other people whose names I don’t know who worked hard in the background as well. I’d like to thank those at the Department of Foreign Affairs in particular," he continued.
“My family and friends are always a source of love and support but have been even more so at this time. I also appreciate all the good wishes that myself, my family and my friends have received.”
Sigley said he would not be making any further comment at this time or later.
PM Morrison announced in parliament on Thursday that Sigley had been in detention in North Korea. He has now left the country, has travelled to China, and is on his way to Japan.
"I'm pleased to announce that Mr Alex Sigley has been released from detention in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Alex is safe and well," the PM said on Thursday afternoon, interrupting the daily Question Time session as Sigley's status was confirmed.
It is unknown why or how Sigley found himself in detention in the reclusive nation.
Korean media outlets reported on Thursday that a Swedish diplomatic envoy had met with officials, leading to Sigley's release. Morrison confirmed this.
"Swedish authorities advised they met with senior officials with the DPRK and raised the issue of Alex's disappearance. We were advised that the DPRK has released him from detention and he has safely left the country and I can confirm that he has arrived safely," Morrison said.
"On behalf of the Australian Government 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," Morrison continued.
"I'm sure we all could not be more pleased. We know where he is now safe."
Foreign minister Marise Payne said Sigley's father had been informed.
"He is enormously relieved and grateful and has asked me to convey, the family has asked that we convey the thanks to everyone who has expressed support to them for the last few," she told the Senate.
Sigley's father, speaking from Perth, said the family was "over the moon" after hearing the news and sent thanks to DFAT and the Australian public for their assistance. He called those who gave help the "silent heroes".