Australia says no word yet on student reported detained in North Korea

SIGLEY: Australian student Alek Sigley is seen in this undated photo obtained on June 27. Photo courtesy of the Sigley family via Reuters

ASYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday Canberra has yet to establish the whereabouts of an Australian man missing in North Korea for several days.The family of Alek Sigley said Thursday they had not heard from the 29-year-old university student in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, since Tuesday.

Australia's foreign affairs department said on Thursday it was seeking urgent clarification about reports that an Australian had been detained in North Korea.

Australia has no diplomatic presence in North Korea and relies on third-party countries such as Sweden to act on its behalf. Morrison said Australia had been unable to establish what happened to Sigley despite the help of its allies.

"We don't have any further information," Morrison told Australia's Channel 9 in Osaka, where he is attending the G-20 summit of world leaders.

"It's very concerning, I'm very concerned," he said.

The treatment of foreign citizens, most usually from the United States, by the secretive North has long been a contentious issue. Some have been held as prisoners for years.

Sigley has written several articles for international media organizations about his time in North Korea, which he describes in positive language.

He regularly updates his social media accounts but hasn't made any posts since his disappearance. His Instagram page has since been removed, a family representative said.

"This has been done at the instigation of his family to limit unnecessary speculation and commentary on those channels," a spokeswoman for Sigley's family said in an emailed statement.

"Alek's family and friends hope to hear from him soon," she said.

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