Wellington: New Zealand anti-whaling activist Peter Bethune, who is under arrest in Japan for trespass, is reported to be well and in good spirits, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said Saturday.
Bethune, who has been in custody since he boarded a Japanese harpoon ship in Antarctic waters last month, was arrested when the vessel docked in Tokyo on Friday.
He was visited by New Zealand embassy staff in Tokyo on Friday night and the consular officials were providing information to his wife, Sharyn.
"Embassy staff report he is well and continues to be in good spirits. Consular staff will continue to monitor Mr Bethune’s welfare while he is in custody," McCully said.
A member of the militant Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Peter Bethune had been engaged in months of high-seas clashes with the Japanese whaling fleet until he was detained when he boarded the Shonan Maru II.
The 44-year-old was the captain of Sea Shepherd's high-tech powerboat Ady Gil that was sliced in two in a collision with the Shonan Maru II in January.
On February 15, he climbed aboard the Japanese ship before dawn from a jet ski with the stated intention of making a citizen's arrest of captain Hiroyuki Komiya for what he said was the attempted murder of his six crew.
It was the latest chapter in a long-running battle between environmentalists and Japanese whalers, who hunt the ocean giants in the name of scientific research, a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium on whaling.
Japan maintains that whaling has been part of its culture for centuries, and does not hide the fact that whale meat from its annual expeditions ends up in shops and restaurants.
First Published: Saturday, March 13, 2010, 09:59