A lawyer for detained New Zealand activist Peter Bethune says he will probably take counter legal action against the Japanese over the sinking of his anti-whaling boat the Ady Gil.

The Aucklander is being held in Tokyo facing a charge of trespassing after boarding Japanese whaling ship, Shonan Maru 2, in the Southern Ocean last month.

He was attempting to make a citizen's arrest and seeking damages following a collision in January between the Japanese whaling ship and his trimaran Ady Gil, which sank after being severely damaged.

Bethune's lawyer, Dan Harris told Radio New Zealand possible counter legal action against the Japanese for the sinking was likely.

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