Tokyo (CNN) - Japan on Friday handed over to Australian authorities three anti-whaling activists held aboard a Japanese vessel after illegally boarding the ship to protest Japan's annual whale hunt in Atlantic waters.
The three Australian men were transferred onto Ocean Protector, an Australian customs ship, a spokesman for the Japanese Fisheries Agency said, declining to be identified as is customary in Japan. The activists were released without charge.
The men had been questioned by Japan's Coast Guard after boarding the Shonan Maru #2, a patrol vessel supporting the whaling mission in Antarctic waters, on Sunday.
Australia engaged in diplomatic discussions with Japan to ensure the well-being and release of the three men. Australia opposes Japan's whale hunt, but the incident did not occur in Australian territorial waters, meaning that the country's law did not automatically apply to the case.FULL STORY