|Tuesday January 15, 10:59 PM
Two activists held aboard whaling ship
An Australian and a Briton are being held hostage aboard a Japanese whaling vessel in the Southern Ocean, the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling group says.
Benjamin Potts, 28, of Sydney, and Giles Lane, 35, from Britain, crew from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Steve Irwin, boarded the Japanese whaling vessel Yashin Maru No 2 about 5pm (AEDT), the group's international director Jonny (Jonny) Vasic told AAP.
The ship was one of a fleet of five the Steve Irwin had tracked since January 1 but located on Tuesday, Mr Vasic said.
The men boarded the vessel from a Zodiac boat to hand its captain a letter informing him that the vessel's crew was "illegally killing whales" in the Southern Whale Sanctuary.
"When they got on board and delivered the letter they were not allowed to leave," Mr Vasic said.
"The letter basically stated that they (the Japanese crew) were breaking the international conservation law against whaling in the Antarctic sanctuary."
Mr Vasic said the men were tied to a radar mast for up to three hours in freezing conditions before they were taken to a locked room below deck.
"We have a photo that shows that when they were held they were basically strapped by the arms with zip ties and tied with rope around their chests, and then they were held there for several hours in the cold, and then about two-and-a-half to three hours after that, they were taken below," he said.
Mr Vasic said Sea Shepherd had contacted the British High Commission in Australia and the Australian Federal Police to report the incident.
"We're hoping that the federal government and the British government will step up and do the right thing, which is demand the release of their citizens," Mr Vasic said.
"We're trying to contact (the Japanese vessel) by radio. They are moving away from us but we're in pursuit and we are holding off on taking any further action until we know if the governments are doing anything."
Mr Lane is an engineer aboard the Steve Irwin. Mr Potts is a cook.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is investigating the incident.
An AFP spokeswoman said a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society representative made a report to police early this evening, about 6pm (AEDT), saying two of their activists were being held on board a Japanese vessel in the Southern Ocean.
There is no evidence at this stage that the pair had been tied to a radar mast on board that vessel, the AFP spokeswoman said.
The incident occurred just inside the Australian Antarctic Sanctuary near the intersection of the coordinates 60 degrees south and 77 degrees east, a week's sail south-west of the Australian coast, Mr Vasic said.
The encounter came after the Federal Court outlawed whaling in Australian Antarctic waters in a ruling the government said it would not try to enforce. - WHAT THE????
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society earlier reported that the crew of the Steve Irwin had located five whaling vessels at 11.15am (AEDT) on the 60-degree south line.