Captain Pete Bethune is a free man.

After finding him guilty of all charges, (including assaulting a Japanese whaler and obstructing the country's whaling fleet) the Tokyo District Court handed down a two-year prison term, suspended for five years. In other words, he's on probation.

Bethune is expected to be on the next flight out of Japan to New Zealand, where is wife and two daughters eagerly await his return.

"I am truly sorry for all the trouble and worry this has caused my family and am desperate to get back home to see them," he said. "I also want to thank all the supporters worldwide who have been sending messages and signing petitions, and the media, who have been keeping this story in the public eye."

Bethune was arrested in February after a daring nighttime boarding of a Japanese whaling ship. The 45-year-old was participating in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's protest of Japan's whaling in the Antarctic Sanctuary.

His intent in pulling off the stunt was to hand the captain of the ship a $3 million bill for sinking his protest speedboat, the Ady Gil, in a collision.

“All I did was to board the boat that I feel deliberately attacked and sunk my vessel," Bethune said. "I wanted justice for the loss of my boat and the attempted murder of my crew. I still want justice, and I strongly urge the Australian and New Zealand maritime authorities to continue putting pressure on the Japanese whalers to cooperate with their investigations into the collision.”

While Bethune is looking forward to reuniting with family and friends, his wife says the activist won't sit still for long.

"I think the girls might lock him up in the garage for the foreseeable future to stop him getting himself into trouble again, but knowing Pete, I dare say he’d get himself out and have a new project within weeks.”

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Anti-whaling activist released in Japan
Sea Shepherd's Pete Bethune avoids jail time for boarding a Japanese whaling vessel in February.