The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says that its founder and president, Paul Watson, is no longer in Germany. The organization was quoting Watson’s German lawyer.
The organization said it has learned that Japan may also be seeking to extradite Watson.
“Captain Watson’s attorney reports he has left Germany,” said Susan Hartland, administrative director of Sea Shepherd. We have reason to believe from a reliable source that, once in Costa Rica, the Japanese Government may have sought extradition of Captain Watson to Japan to answer charges related to obstructing their illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We have no further information and are not in touch with him. We will do our best to provide more details as we learn more. Please continue to check our Web site for updates. We will post any new information as it arrives and we are able to confirm its validity.”
Watson was detained May 13 on the strength of a Costa Rica warrant. Watson is facing trial in Costa Rica over the claims by shark fishermen that their boat, the “Varadero I,” suffered damages and crew members suffered injuries in a 2002 run-in with Watson and the much larger “Ocean Warrior.” A quote attributed to Watson calls these claims absurd:
“If Costa Rica believes that there is a need to put me on trial over the absurd accusations of these fishermen we caught poaching sharks, then I am prepared to cooperate with the judicial system to present our video evidence, our logbooks, and our crew as witnesses to those events. Costa Rica needs only to assign a date for a trial, and I will appear before the Costa Rican Court voluntarily, if given assurances that my safety will be guaranteed. There is no need for an extradition or preventive arrest. All Costa Rica needs to do is make a request to appear.”
Despite that quote, Watson’s legal team in Germany were trying to prevent the extradition. Watson was released on $319,200 bail and told to sign in frequently with police.
As German authorities realized that Watson has skipped bail, a court resumed the extradition proceedings.
Sea Shepherd is based in the U.S. state of Washington. Watson is a Canadian with U.S. residency.
The seagoing encounter with the “Varadero I” was filmed and became part of the movie “Sharkwater,” The video appears to contradict the claims of the crew that the vessel suffered damage and crew members were injured. The encounter happened in Guatemalan waters, and Watson said his crew were trying to bring illegal shark finners into custody in that country.