Two anti-whaling activists were still being held captive on a Japanese whaler in Antarctic waters Wednesday after boarding the ship to deliver a protest message.
The Sea Shepherd activist organisation said the pair were tied up to the mast and rails of the Yushin Maru No. 2 in freezing conditions for two and a half hours on Tuesday before being taken below and there had been no word of their condition overnight.
But the Japanese whaling organisation, Institute Of Cetacean Research, said the two were being held after they tried to entangle the vessel's propeller with ropes and threw bottles of acid onto the decks.
Director general Minoru Morimoto said the men were not harmed and were being held in custody in a secure room pending discussions on their future.
"Any accusations that we have tied them up or assaulted them are completely untrue," Morimoto said in a statement from Tokyo.
"It is illegal to board another country's vessels on the high seas."
Australian reports on Tuesday named the pair as Australian Ben Potts and Briton Giles Lane who boarded the boat to deliver a note advising that the Australian Federal Court had ruled on Tuesday that Japanese whaling in the Antarctic was illegal. The court admitted it had no power to stop it.
Johnny Bassett, international director of Sea Shepherd, told Radio New Zealand Wednesday, "We are not sure of their safety or what kind of health they are in."
He said the Yushin Maru No 2 was "basically on the run" from the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin and efforts to make radio contact overnight were unsuccessful. ( Dpa )