Updated Jul 4, 2019 - World

North Korea releases Australian student after spying accusations

Photo: Gerhard Joren/LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed to parliament this week that Alek Sigley — the Aussie student who went missing and was allegedly held on reports of espionage — had safely left North Korea, AP reports.

What they're saying: North Korea claimed on Saturday that Sigley spread anti-Pyongyang propaganda and engaged in spying. A North Korean state news agency reported that Sigley was expelled out of "humanitarian leniency," says AP.

  • Sigley had reportedly shared information about North Korea on social media and on his travel agency's website.
  • Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency explained that Sigley was caught “red-handed” on June 25, having “comb[ed]” through Pyongyang and furnishing news outlets with photos and data on domestic happenings in North Korea, per AP.

But, but, but: In a statement on NK News' website, CEO Chad O’Carroll called it a “misrepresentation” for North Korea to characterize Sigley's writing for the outlet as anti-state, AP reports.

Go deeper: How North Korea executes people

What's next

Honoring Kobe Bryant: Sports stars, politicians and celebrities mourn NBA great

Kobe Bryant on court for the Los Angeles Lakers during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center in Dallas in February 2010. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Sports stars, politicians and celebrities paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a California helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on Saturday. He was 41.

What they're saying: Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal said in an Instagram post of his former teammate, "There's no words to express the pain I'm going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed."

Bolton alleges in book that Trump tied Ukraine aid to investigations

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that the president explicitly told him "he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens," the New York Times first reported.

Why this matters: The revelations present a dramatic 11th hour turn in Trump's Senate impeachment trial. They directly contradict Trump's claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to his demands for investigations into his political opponent Joe Biden.

Impeachment: Then & now

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We are living in a measurably different political and media landscape than when the Senate acquitted President Bill Clinton of impeachment charges in 1999.

The big picture: These dynamics are setting the pace as President Trump’s legal team speeds through arguments to seek a fast acquittal.