UPDATE: Greenpeace activists held for further investigation for exposing embezzlement in the Japanese whaling fleet: Appeal to be heard tomorrow

Press release - June 22, 2008
Two Greenpeace activists who exposed large scale embezzlement of tax payers' money from the Japanese government whaling programme will be kept in custody for a further 10 days, without charge, under the order of the Aomori Court.

The ruling was made today despite clear evidence that they have committed no crime and that they have no intention to make obstacle for judicial interests. (1)

Greenpeace lawyers have appealed the ruling and a decision on the appeal will be made tomorrow (Monday) afternoon.

Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were arrested in Tokyo on Friday during a heavy- handed police operation involving raids on the Greenpeace office in Japan and the homes of a number of Greenpeace staff. Both had already offered to present themselves to police and had submitted written statements describing how they obtained evidence of a major whale meat theft scandal, including a box of whale meat that had been smuggled off the whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru, disguised as crew members' personal possessions.

"Despite having made written submissions to the police and offering to make themselves available for questioning, the authorities clearly decided to make an example of them, prior to the G8 meeting in Japan next month," said Greenpeace Japan Executive Director Jun Hoshikawa. "There is no place in a democracy for this kind of institutional intimidation, the two Greenpeace activists are innocent of any crime and should be released immediately,"

Greenpeace has launched an international on-line petition directed at Japan's Prime Minster, Fukuda, appealing for him to intervene to end this heavy-handed charade and order the release of the activists. Within 24 hours of the launch some 50,000 people had sent messages to Japanese embassies worldwide.

Other contacts: Keiko Shirokawa: Greenpeace Japan Media, in Tokyo:
+ 81 90 3470 7884

Mike Townsley, Greenpeace International, in Amsterdam:
+31 621 296 918

Dave Walsh, Greenpeace International, at the IWC in Chile:
+56 9 939 2952

Notes: 1. The activists can be held for up to 23 days without charge under Japanese law.