With Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) – An Australian student who was briefly detained in North Korea last year about spy charges said that he had been kidnapped by secret police and had to make a false confession, according to an article he wrote and saw Reuters on Wednesday.
Alek Sigley was held for nine days from 25 June and is studying for a graduate in modern Korean literature at a prestigious University Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.
He was removed from the country when Swedish officials helped to release his release.
North Korean state media KCNA said that it had admitted its "spying acts" including data and photographs that it collected by using its status as a foreign student to "anti-state" media outlets.
Apart from denying that he was a spy and saying that he was sad to lose access to North Korea, Sigley had not previously announced details of his detention.
In a South Korea magazine, Sigley said that it appeared to be agents of the State Security Department such as Stasi, known as bowibu, from his dormer in the university.
"I was innocent but put false charges against me," he wrote, without elaboration.
"They tried to teach me some lessons by forcing me to make a written acknowledgment which was a collective evidence of proven evidence and of unreasonable legal reasoning and offenses."
Sigley said on Twitter on Wednesday that he did not speak directly to the media in favor of telling his story "in my own words".
The article was printed in North Korea Monthly, published by Seoul North Korea Research Institute, and included stories from his youth and details of international student life in North Korea.
During his detention, Sigley said he had no idea when he was released because he was "completely isolated" from the outside world, and that Australian officials were trying to gain freedom with other countries.
"One successful lesson taught me: the misunderstanding of North Korean legal system," he said.
During his time in North Korea, Sigley published articles about daily life for NK News and other specialized websites.
The treatment of foreign citizens by the North secretary is sometimes a geopolitical issue.
As a result of the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student, in 2017 after his 17-month detention in North Korea, tension came in Washington and Pyongyang.
Warmbier was detained in 2016 and had 15 years of forced labor after being charged with stealing a propaganda poster in his hotel. He returned to the United States in a coma and died shortly afterwards.
North Korea, which was highly approved for its nuclear weapons and missile programs, indicated that frustration at nuclear talks has stopped with the United States.
United States officials say that North Korea must take concrete measures to dismantle its army registers before sanctions can be relaxed.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; editing by Nick Macfie)