Whaling activists released from ship

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The Independent Online

Two anti-whaling activists who boarded the Japanese harpoon ship Yushin Maru 2 in a protest last Tuesday were last night transferred to an Australian vessel.

The men, Australian Benjamin Potts, 28, and Briton Giles Lane, 35, were moved after a compromise agreement was brokered by the Australian government. For two days the Japanese fleet and environmental group Sea Shepherd appeared to be deadlocked over their fate.

The intervention will allow the whaling fleet to resume its hunt in Antarctic waters, chased by the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin.

Minoru Morimoto, director general of Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, confirmed the men had been moved to the Australian customs ship Oceanic Viking.

Australia is a staunch opponent of Japan's whaling programme, and last month sent the Oceanic Viking to gather evidence that might be used in international courts to prove that the program is a front for commercial whaling.