Anti-whaling activists freed

Two anti-whaling activists have been freed from captivity by Japanese on a vessel they had seized to prevent the illegal hunting of whales, writes Chris Gaynor.

Giles Lane, 35, and Benjamin Potts, from Sydney, Australia, were kidnapped by the Japanese harpoon ship Yishin Maru 2 on Tuesday. They are now reported to be safe on board an Australian vessel.

Both men boarded the ship to deliver a message that the ship was in violation of international conservation law by targeting endangered species in an established whale sanctuary.

Lane and Potts were assaulted then tied up. They were held against their will on the whaling vessel. Earlier on Thursday, the Japanese hunt for endangered whales in the Southern Oceans Whale Sanctuary had been shut down. Conservation Society's ship Steve Irwin ship Captain Paul Watson said:  "All whaling activities have come to a halt.

"No whales have been killed since January 11th. The Japanese whaling fleet has been denied a solid week of whaling activity. Our task now is to make that two weeks and then three weeks."

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Greenpeace have prevented the Japanese whaling fleet from engaging in whaling activity. Watson added:  "I wish that Greenpeace would be more cooperative.

"However, we will continue to feed them the coordinates for the rest of the fleet as they tail the factory ship Nisshin Maru. If we cannot work with Greenpeace directly we will work with them indirectly. The strength of any movement is in diversity."

Also earlier on Thursday, found the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin chased the whaling supply vessel Oriental Bluebird and three other whaling ships eastward along the line of Latitude of Sixty Degrees South near the Eighty Six Degree East line of longitude.

This is approximately 2000 miles from Fremantle, Australia. The Japanese government had ordered their release, but the whalers defied that order and refused to release their hostages until Sea Shepherd agreed to their demands.

One of the demands was for Sea Shepherd to discontinue opposing whaling activities. Captain Watson responded by refusing to acknowledge those demands and demanded instead that the hostages be released without conditions.

Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin will continue to pursue illegal Japanese whaling activities for as long as possible.