Japanese whalers urged to hand back activists

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Australian attorney general Nicola Roxon is urging the Japanese government to end a dispute quickly by handing over three Australian activists being held on a Japanese whaling security vessel in the Southern Ocean.

The three men boarded the Shonan Maru 2 off the coast of Bunbury on Saturday night outside Australian waters, in an attempt to stop the vessel pursuing the Steve Irwin, the anti-whaling ship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Because the incident took place in international waters the federal government is limited in what it can do, although it is pursuing diplomatic dialogue with Japan about the three, who could be charged with trespass.

Roxon said the activists boarded the Japanese vessel "with their eyes open. If people take the law into their own hands there are consequences for doing that and I think we're seeing some of those playing out," Roxon told reporters in Melbourne.

Click here for the full report and click here for a TV interview with Pete Bethune of Sea Shepherd.