Japan to hand over Australian anti-whaling activists
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Jan 10, 2012
This undated handout photo released courtesy of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on January 8, 2012 shows a recent image taken during a port call in Freemantle, Australia of the three Forest Rescue Activists (identity order in photo unavailable) who boarded the Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru #2 off the coast of Australia overnight and detained, it was announced by the anti-whaling group. Sea Shepherd said on January 8, 2012 three Australian activists were being held as “prisoners” by the Japanese harpoon fleet after sneaking aboard one of their vessels overnight to protest. Sea Shepherd said it had helped the three men from the Forest Rescue Australia environmental group to board the Shonan Maru No.2 16 miles (26 kilometres) off Australia’s west coast. Forest Rescue has demanded that the Japanese return their protesters — Simon Peterffy, 44, Geoffrey Tuxworth, 47 and Glen Pendlebury, 27 — to shore and leave Australian waters. Photo courtesy AFP.
Tokyo has agreed to release three anti-whaling activists held aboard a ship escorting the Japanese harpoon fleet on an Antarctic hunt, the Australian government said on Tuesday.
The men from the Forest Rescue Australia environmental group boarded the Shonan Maru No.2 around 16 miles (26 kilometres) off Australia’s west coast on Saturday night.
There were fears the trio would be taken to Japan and tried for trespassing but after a flurry of diplomatic activity Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said Tokyo had decided to release the men without charge.
However, the logistics of the handover were still being worked out with the ship heading for the Southern Ocean.
“We are pleased that the Japanese government has made a decision that these three men won’t be charged and will be released,” she told the Nine Network.
“But we can’t be confident that that will happen next time if people take action, take the law into their own hands.”
Consular officials had been in contact with the men and they were well, she added.
“We now have today a very complex job of working out how that actual release and handover can be safely undertaken now that these vessels are out in open seas,” said Roxon.
“So there is good news that that has been able to be achieved through good diplomatic relationships through good work from our officials.”
Forest Rescue said it wanted to prevent the Shonan Maru from tailing the Steve Irwin, a ship from anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, back to the Southern Ocean, where Japan annually hunts for whales.
The Steve Irwin returned to Australia last week because another Sea Shepherd ship, the Brigitte Bardot, was damaged in high seas and needed escorting home, setting back the group’s annual harassment of the whalers.
Three whaling ships, led by the 720-tonne Yushin Maru, left the Japanese port of Shimonosekion December 6 for the annual hunt, with security measures beefed up amid simmering international protests.
In previous years, a mother ship has joined them later.
Commercial whaling is banned under an international treaty but Japan has since 1987 used a loophole to carry out “lethal research” on the creatures in the name of science.
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