'Whale Wars' captain freed on bail from German jail
Activists put up a poster calling for a German court to free Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson.
May 21st, 2012
11:02 AM ET

'Whale Wars' captain freed on bail from German jail

Controversial Sea Shepherd conservationist and "Whale Wars" star Paul Watson was released from a German jail on Monday after posting 250,000 euros ($318,000) bail in an extradition case from Costa Rica.

Watson, whose attempts to disrupt Japanese whalers at sea gained fame through Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars” TV show, was detained last weekend at the Frankfurt airport after Costa Rica issued an international request for his arrest.

Costa Rican authorities allege that Watson’s crew aboard Sea Shepherd’s Ocean Warrior ship endangered a Costa Rican fishing vessel during a confrontation off Guatemala’s coast in 2002, according to the Frankfurt court.

The court ruled Friday that Germany will consider the request and that Costa Rica will have 90 days to make its case. The German Ministry of Justice then will decide whether to extradite Watson.

Speaking outside the prison Monday, Watson defended what happened in the Costa Rica case.

"I had to take action with my crew a decade ago to protect hundreds of sharks, and of course, those shark poachers have very powerful allies in government and other places," he said.

The U.S.-based Sea Shepherd has denied wrongdoing in the Costa Rica case and urged supporters through its website and social media to write to German officials, arguing that the charges have less to do with law than with Watson’s anti-conservationist enemies and that it doubts he would get a fair trial.

"It's very strange that this so-called extradition thing was dismissed by Interpol in every country except Germany," Watson said Monday.

“As Sea Shepherd becomes increasingly more effective at protecting marine wildlife globally, the enemies of the oceans are using all of their resources to stop us,” the group said in a statement. The extradition request "we believe stems from Sea Shepherd victories in curbing shark finning on the high seas.”

In the 2002 incident, Sea Shepherd ship operations officer Peter Hammarstedt said, the Ocean Warrior found the Costa Rican crew killing sharks for their fins in Guatemalan waters. It initially had permission from Guatemalan authorities to stop it and tow the vessel into port, he said.

The Ocean Warrior used water cannons on the fishing vessel in an effort to stop it, but “there were no injuries and no physical damage to any ship,” Hammarstedt said.

The Ocean Warrior succeeded in stopping the ship, but Guatemalan authorities eventually asked Watson to release it, Hammarstedt said.

The confrontation is detailed in part of a 2007 documentary, “Sharkwater,” Hammarstedt said.

Shark finning is the practice of cutting the fins off sharks and throwing the shark itself back into the sea, where they die. The fins are used for expensive soup, mostly in China.

On Monday, Watson said he hoped he could use attention the case is generating to bring a new focus on preserving life in the world's oceans.

"We have all the laws and regulations we need to protect our oceans, but we don't have governments with the guts to enforce those regulations," he said.

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Filed under: Costa Rica • Crime • Germany • Nature • Showbiz • TV
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Nine Volt

    Save the whales? Try, save the humans. We're the ones that need saving.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • NetNinja

      I agree. I want to arm the Whales with 50 cal machine guns. They have a right to protect themselves.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan K

      ...and why do humans deserve to be saved? Should have thought of that before we wrecked the planet!

      May 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      are you stupid? haven't you heard of overpopulation?

      May 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • dike

      Yes we are becoming endangered species now....

      May 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Me

    Paul is a crazy man. Anybody who would put human life over animals is insane. This guy run into boats on the high seas. Human life is alot more value than any animal.. But these nuts heads say reagrding abortion that it is a fetus not a human embryo but will turn around and say its a turtle egg and must be saved.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • jam

      I know some dogs that need to be shot. Please don't get in my way.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • ocean1

      since when does he put animal life over human life? why is it so hard to believe that he sees the two as equal and just as every country has laws to protect people from harm (generally from other people), paul watson has a personal conviction to include these incredibly intelligent animals in that.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Teaparty01

    This fellow Watson sounds more like a pirate than a conservationist; extradite him and let the Costa Rican courts decide.
    Why has the Coast guard not seized his sea shepard vessel as a pirate ship ?

    May 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe R.

    This moron is nothing more than a terrorist. Rot in jail.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. californiarestinpeace

    I will write the German government on your behalf, Mr. Watson. I am all for your efforts and applaud you 100%. One person in the world who has the balls to engage illegal poaching. It has recently come to light that poachers are taking Great Whites in the Sea of Cortez to sell their jaws on the black market. They should all be sunk in the open seas to give the sharks a chance. What they're doing is pathetic. All illegal poaching around the world, from rhino to sharks is destructive to the entire world.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kevin

    The man should be in jail. He puts his crew in danger while he runs inside at the first hint of trouble. Anyone who values the lives of animals over humans should be watched very carefully and put in jail as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • nambi

      These people volunteer!! They know what they are getting into.

      Are you worried how the US has put their military in danger? does this bother you?

      May 22, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. silverfarmer

    the whole team should be locked up. They are nothing but eco-terrorists, who could not make it in the real world so they attempt to save whales. I wish someone would just sink their boats! Capt Watson is a liar he proved on the show!

    May 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. harley02

    It is amazing how all governments do not do enjoy at protecting the seas and what we have on this planet. As someone already stated, we take, take and take more, but never put anything back like we found it or better than we found it. Yes, this guy might not handle things the way everyone likes, but he is trying. Show me anyone else that is doing anything at all this topic on a national scale. I bet no one! All we do is talk about someone or a team of people making an attempt or trying to make a difference. For all those against this guy, just do your own research on some of the killings and then make an educated response. Once you've seen the killing of whales and how some of the countries do this, then if you have a heart and care about sea life, you might come away with a totally different perspective.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick

    These Whale Wars media hounds are lucky they are still alive. They intentionally interfere with shipping in international waters. The Captains of those ships, under maritime law, can protect their ships by any means possible. They're just lucky that they haven't run up against anyone mean enough to sink them.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. stopthetsa

    Oh well, no vaction to Costa Rica now.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mike

    Without wildlife management, there would not be wildlife. Shark fining is an atrocity of the highest order. Thanks captain for giving sea life a voice of reason, the world is your oyster.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rif

    There's room for all gods creatures.
    On my plate, next to the mashed potatoes.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Right next to your plate of used condoms.............

      May 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steven

    This guy is nothing but a con man that stumbled into a lucrative gig...what a jerk. I hope Costa Rico gets to host him in one of their worst prisons.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dan

    Send him to Somalia, he will fit right in with the rest of the pirates.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Matthew

    Everyone knows the Enola Gay was flown by a cow and a chicken not a whale and a shark..................

    May 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • M Rodriguez

      Now, the WHOLE world knows that you're stupid!

      May 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
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