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. Rick

    It's getting really irritating how these people keep calling Costa Rica a corrupt country. They keep saying that there's in no way Watson is gonna get a fair trial in Costa Rica and that he's gonna get killed as soon as he gets here.
    What prove do they have to say something like that? Other than the fact that they are furious and mad because Watson's in prison.
    It's only because this is a small country, a small economy... a latin american country.
    A Taiwanese captain was recently in court in Costa Rica and received a monetary penalty for shark finning. That fine was around $125,000, considerably higher than the purported bounty the Taiwanese Mafia is offering Costa Rican officers according to Sea Shepherd...

    May 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maarten

      Couldn't care less: Different case, Different hero. This concerns the biggest hero for marine life. We, as mankind cannot let the inhumane and undeveloped fin fishing boats have any form of legal respect. Costa Rica should welcome them as heroes and praise that Sea Shepperd's crew are willing to give their lives for protecting the wonderful marine life!!

      May 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. freedomdem

    hope they harrass him like he did to inocent civilians.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane Daly

      "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity."
      -Martin Luther King, Jr.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitch VanDerlandt

      Freedumb: He didn't harass "innocent people", he harassed thugs and criminals who are robbing our world of its natural resources.

      May 18, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. freedomdem

    he's guilty of assult with a deadly weapon.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joel

      I suppose you have ample admissible evidence to back that up. Or do you believe in guilt by accusation? I'm no fan of this guy, but I am less of a fan of people, like you, who throw others under the bus with no evidence and plenty of malice.

      May 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane Daly

      And the people he fights against are guilty of illegally hunting these animals........or don't you care about those laws??????

      May 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • AJinPompano

      Dick Cheney said water cannons aren't torture, so they can't be a deadly weapon.

      May 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Amanda

    Anyone who has seen the shows has seen that what they do is NOT "safe and non damaging".... While I understand why they do what they do, they have rammed boats and risked the lives of those trying to make a living. There are other ways to do it... Send him to plead his case... THAT is only fair.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. hamsta

    @ amanda i totally agree. seems as if zimmermann watched to much reality tv.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sofia

    I am from Costa Rica and I have to say that this is embarrassing for our country. We say that we are green and ecologically friendly, when in reality its a tourism stunt. We should be defending the wildlife, which is the reason that people come to Costa Rica in the first place. I hope that Germany doesn't give in to this ridiculous request. Paul Watson is a hero and we should be thankful for his service to our planet.

    May 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yup Yup!


      May 18, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      I am from Costa Rica too, but I am not ashame of what my country is doing, you can be green and a great environmental country, but the law is the law and when someone bullies a smaller boat on the sea, it should be bully enough to stand trial and face the consequences of their acts, if any. He agreed to present himself to the court hearing and then left the country to become a fugitive, and that is what should be done to fugitives, be brought to justice to let the judicial system do its work. If you follow the Whale Wars show as I do, you also know that they have or at least show a huge lack of common sense and make very bad decisions that have put their and other boats tripulation in danger... It is only fair for him to stand trial and face the consequences of their acts. If he had a request from the Guatemala government to seize the Costa Rican boat, then just show it to the court, and to the international press. Have anybody asked them for the proof of such request? If they have proof that the boat was engage on illegal activities, can they provide that proof to CNN and have them reported ASAP? Even if the costa rrican boat was engage in ellegal activity, under what authority did they seize the boat? Is CNN going to ask those and similar questions?

      May 18, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Candy

      Thank you Sofia for coming forward and telling it like it is. It's too bad other country's aren't aware of what will happen to human life if we destroy nature. I am 100% for Paul Watson. I think they have been doing a marvlous job in saving our ocean friends. If it wasn't for the Sea Shepard who knows how many whales,sharks,etc would be slaughtered every year. I just wish there were more ships to put out there to help Paul Watson and his crew.

      May 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pam

    I agree with Amanda. I too believe the whales should be saved, but I have watched Whale Wars many times and feel they don't take human life into consideration with the ways they try and stop the other ships. They don't even take their own shipmates lives into consideration when you see what Paul Watson expects them to do. Just because he is on reality T.V. he is not exempt from facing criminal charges regardless of where they originate!!!!

    May 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yup Yup!

      Yet nobody presses charges against the OTHER people breaking the law in these situations...if your going to react to the law, perhaps they should prosecute ALL of them...not just as they pick and choose. Many of the vessels they are confronting are breaking laws as well, however nobody pays attention to them....

      May 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ivan

    I may agree with the reasons they are doing this, but definitely not with their tactics.
    This group claims their tactics are non violent. Colliding with other ships.... is this non violent? Using stink bombs and fouling props... Is this non violent? Either way this is still willful property damage. These ships being "attacked" have every right to defend themselves against these type of tactics.

    May 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sea Scape

      @Ivan: Is cutting off the fins of a shark and throwing it, still alive, into the ocean to drown non-violent? Is gutting a whale before it's dead non-violent? Expand a little: Is dumping millions of gallons into the Gulf of Mexico and then making a record profit right and non-violent? See, you're asking the wrong questions, Ivan.

      May 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Justa

    If I read the articke correctly, they used water cannons on the ship that he is being arrested for; he may use different tactics on his show.

    May 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lord Cthulhu

    Paul Watson is a tool and needs to be stopped. Not only do the harass the whalers, now his crew has taken to going into the ports where the whalers are based and harassing the people who live there. I only hope the entire fleet meets the perfect storm!

    May 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane Daly

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

      May 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sea Scape

      Cthulhu: Obviously you think very highly of yourself "Lord", but I'd watch what I wished on other people. It has a really sneaky way of coming back on you. Might want to be especially careful in the bathtub.

      May 18, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Portland tony

    Since I dont have a horse in this race, I don't care what happens to his extradition hearing.......but how do you stop people from slaughtering fish, sharks, mammals in a non-confrontational way? Do you say stop? ......They say no!........ What do you do? Hint: If it were drug smuggling, there would be no problem since drugs are against the law....well more so than shark fin soup!

    May 18, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Chelsea

    One of these days he will run into the wrong ship (Chinese, Russian, etc) whose crew will be less than sympathetic to his self-righteous arrogance.

    May 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ra huck

    Throw. The sob in jail he has no respect for the rule of law

    May 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Super Shield

    Paul Watson has nothing to fear from any threat of a violent end in Costa Rica. If they try to use bullets to hurt him, we all know from the finale of Season 1 of Whale wars that they will be miraculously stopped by the police badge he wears under his sweater. I assume his police badge also miraculously foils all other forms of violent attack.

    May 18, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chelsea

    My advice to the fishing vessel captains: get yourself a good old Browning .50 cal machinegun.

    When this fat cretin and his troupe of wannabe terrorists show up with their stink-bombs and whatnot, you will be ready for them. Some people only understand force.

    May 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • floydgg

      Wow. What amazing irony!

      May 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • floydgg

      Wow. What amazing irony! (meaning Chelsea's last sentence).

      May 18, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
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