Dutch man missing in N.Korea safely back home

15th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Dutch citizen missing for several weeks under mysterious circumstances in North Korea has returned home safely, a foreign ministry spokesman said Monday.

"I can confirmed he arrived back Saturday evening at Schiphol Airport," Christoph Prommersberger told AFP, after stamp collector Willem van der Bijl was reported missing by a colleague when he failed to return home from a business trip to the insular nation's capital Pyongyang last month.

Local media said Van der Bijl and his North Korean assistants were arrested and interrogated for two weeks "being accused of committing state-threatening activities".

"The exact reason for his arrest remains unclear," the popular daily Algemeen Dagblad reported, saying Van der Bijl dealt in stamps and propaganda posters and had travelled to North Korea several times before.

After signing an admission of guilt, Van der Bijl, who hails from the central Dutch city of Utrecht, was "placed on board a plane to Beijing."

Van der Bijl himself declined to comment Monday, his business partner Ronald de Groen told the Algemeen Dagblad it was "because it could have negative consequences for his (North Korean) assistants."

Said Prommersberger: "The Dutch government would like to express its delight that Mr Van der Bijl was able to leave North Korea."

© 2011 AFP

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