Bail set for 'Whale Wars' star in extradition fight
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson faces charges in Costa Rica stemming from a sea confrontation in 2002.
May 18th, 2012
02:54 PM ET

Bail set for 'Whale Wars' star in extradition fight

The German justice system will entertain a Costa Rican request to extradite controversial Sea Shepherd conservationist and "Whale Wars" star Paul Watson, but he can post bail while the matter is considered, a Frankfurt court ruled Friday.

Bail for Watson - who faces what his organization and attorney allege are politically motivated charges over a 2002 confrontation at sea with Costa Rican fishermen - was set at 250,000 euro ($318,000), Frankfurt high regional court spokesman Ingo Nohre said.

Watson, 61, intends to post it Monday, his group said.

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 this 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, 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.

The U.S.-based Sea Shepherd, which denies the allegations, has 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.

“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.”

Thousands appear to have written to German officials so far, Sea Shepherd ship operations officer Peter Hammarstedt said, citing anecdotal evidence, including supportive e-mails the group received.

Hammarstedt said the Ocean Warrior found the Costa Rican crew killing sharks for their fins in Guatemalan waters in 2002, and it initially had permission from Guatemalan authorities to stop it and tow the vessel into port.

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.

soundoff (535 Responses)
  1. AnimuX

    Anyone who sides with Costa Rica on this is effectively supporting organized crime.

    The Costa Rican flagged boat that Sea Shepherd intercepted and detained was filmed illegally killing and finning sharks in Guatemalan waters.

    The activists later filmed illegally gotten shark fins being dried on rooftops in Costa Rica which the criminals attempted to hide once they spotted the cameras.

    May 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sean

    The dude's got more balls than anybody posting comments here. Whether he's right or not is debatable. The only thing any of these posters ever stood up for is walking to the mailbox to get their guv'ment check each month.

    May 21, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      @Sean: Please stop eating the paint chips.

      May 22, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. keith

    Is it bad that these wannabe pirate idiots make me root for the whalers?

    May 21, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me too

      I am with you. It is sad these guys are such idiots that I do find myself rooting for the whalers. I don't understand how people can say he is couragous. He plays off of other peoples need to do the right thing, takes their money and rides around in the ocean acting like he is above the law. That is until something happens that he doesn't like then he calls the police- Like his recent campagn against pilot whaling. He's nothing but a joke to me. It makes me want to taste whale meat to see what the hype is about. He'll never get a penny of my cash. You'll notice if there is anything that might get them in trouble he stays in the wheelhouse barking orders. Excuse me King Watson, get your fat butt up and do something.

      May 22, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • matno

      Paul watson is wrong

      June 2, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam


      August 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Yeti

    This is hardly the first time that a soverign government pretended that they had a case against Sea Shepherd crew or Paul Watson. They always end up folding after grabbing big headlines beating their chests. Then they meekly dismiss charges when the press isn't looking anymore. Watson and the Sea Shepherd crew are heros for continually putting it out there to halt the worst instincts of modern human society.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Charles Nicholas

      Hero worhsip? Paul Watson is a liar, fraud and a clown. He has continually mistated the truth. Yeti and those who stated their agreement with Paul Watson, Sam and Alfie+ are misguided and uninformed, seeing just what they want to. Paul Watson should have been in jail years ago. CN

      August 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. aeonalyona

    How sad reading comments from idle minds critizicing, laghing at and even sending to prison (or killing) if they could to activists who at least show care and affection for something else than themselves, families and friends (obviously easy tasks).

    Do they do it out of sadism, boredom, envy ...? Feeling pity for them here.

    Long Life to Lovely Caring Brave Courage Heroes !!!! (if you'll forgive the redundancy, just to balance the fanny-sad comments)

    Wish you all a nice day if you can afford it !!

    May 22, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dawn

    Lock the self righteous bloviating enviro-nut and the rest of this crew up. I am against whaling, but these goof-ball pirate wannabe’s are not even close to the solution. You can care about things and do good in the world without being a buffoon –which is what these people and all who watch their “show” are. Grow up!

    May 22, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • BDL

      Dawn, then what’s the answer? I see a lot of people saying this isn’t the right way to do things, but never provide a viable solution to the problem. What have you done to advocate against such atrocities? Let me guess, nothing. You would rather sit back and criticize those that try. They are proactive and understand the value and importance of shining light on these topics that you will never be able to fully comprehend. These people are passionate and deeply believe in what they are doing. When have you ever fought for anything that you believed in? Never… Just like the majority of those that sit on these forums and bless us with their inquisitive insight to worldly affairs. Stick to what you know, nothing.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff R

    This guy is a loose cannon and a real big sleazeball looking for fame.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff R

    He can switch shows now, from "Whale Wars" to "Locked Up Abroad".

    May 22, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  9. Tim

    Send him back to Costa Rica asap to face justice

    May 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. R Dad

    Lock the whole lot of the Sea Shepards up for criminal interference with legal trade and/or research on the high seas. Given the option I would like to see the whaling fleet get to decide the punishment.

    June 2, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  11. lac

    Paul Watson and his ship full of simpletons is no different than the U.S. Govt. going worldwide to get into the business of others and practice violence.

    June 3, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JB

    I have mixed feelings on this guy but the mix has changed to about 90% anti Watson. I have watched the show for a couple years and it has become clear that this guy has no friends, he cares about no one on his ship as much as he cares about the whales and one of these days a lot of people are going to die or at least get hurt badly. Last year the left some of their crew overnight in their dingy with no food water shelter or any means for staying warm. The Viking Shores series really turned me more against what they are doing. The people on those remote islands depend on whale meat like natives in Alaska depend on moose and caribou and salmon. Their tactics are dangerous. He is good at stirring up emotions to raise money but at the same time he has no emotions himself. Strange dude. Don't like him anymore.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • bs0meter

      Never liked him, like what he is trying to do. The crew he has gathered is pathetic at best, past helicopter pilot excluded, I'm shocked they haven't killed each other yet.

      June 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Alfie+

    I admire Paul Watson (and the crew)for having the courage and total committment to stand up for his belifs against the big guys for as Peter said "the only way to stop them is to sink them". The islanders live in very modern times with grocery stores to buy food including fish just as we do.The killing of the whales is a tradition that is now much outdated and barbaric. Paul Watson and all those that make up his crew are Warriors that defend the awesome and beautiful creatures of our oceans from being destroyed by Greed in its most vicious form.

    June 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sam

    I completely agree with Alfie+ and I think that the rest of you folks should be ashamed of yourselves!!!

    August 10, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
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