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. Casper

    Sea Shepherd Forever!! Long live the whales and Paul Whatson!!

    May 19, 2012 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. NB

    Paul Watson and his entire lot should be in prison for international piracy and terrorism. The sooner the better.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Walker

    Agree, agree, agree!!!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dentson

    Wake up everyone. If the guy breaks international laws with the excuse of saving the whales and expects not to be prosecuted he is a fool.

    And where exactly do you think he pulls $318k for bail out of? out of all the donations you been giving him.

    Save the humans I say, screw the whales.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
    • rustyshaft

      I would slaughter countless human lifes just to save one whale.they don't no wrong or war or life,they just do.that is true innosense.on the other hand a human,well let's just say obviously from these comments...there's a lot of them that nobody would miss

      May 19, 2012 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Mitch

      Rusty shaft.......you are an I D 1 O T. You would slaughter humans to save a whale. You really should share a cell with that moron Watson who hasn't worked in 30 years. You could pray to him and maybe he could teach you English.

      May 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. R. Harris

    Germans are no fun!

    May 19, 2012 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Joe Labriola

    I wonder if he's a Vegan...

    May 19, 2012 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
    • mitch

      Vegetarian???????? You don't get to look like a beached whale by eating lettuce.

      May 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Al

    Captain Watson is a true Hero. People like him restore faith in Humanity. However that faith in humanity is shattered, once I start reading some of these CNN comments and realize how amazingly stupid some people are.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Colin

      Burrrrrp! Blubber does that to me.

      May 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chuck

    I enjoy his show, i always wanted a behind the enemy lines view of what its like to be an eco-terrorist

    May 19, 2012 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. David

    This guy is a con artist that endangers naive kids lives. He isn't saving Whales, he is building an ego outside of the Law. No Captain should ever do what he does. Suspend his license and throw him in jail.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jerry Pelletier

    This clown is a terrorist, can you imagine if a boat load of Arabs were terrorizing other ships at sea like this guy does what the world community would do!

    May 19, 2012 at 4:19 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    Give him the death sentence

    May 19, 2012 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. philip richards

    I always had mixed emotions about Watson's persuit of the whaling industry.My concerns were confirmed watching viking shores,,,He is a perfect example of why vigalntie justice cannot be tolerated. He and his officers should be put in jail along with those who donate to his piracy. We need enforcement of intl. fishing,but with consideration for those who depend on the food...I am grateful to Animal Planet for their objective coverage,

    May 19, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      What will you do wait for the police to intervene? This man is a hero and he is doing what most of us don't have the balls to do. Either help him save these animals or get the hell out of his way. I would hope people start boycotting Costa Rica. It is a dump.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric D'Andrea

      @Philip: These so-called "Fishermen" you're advocating are not poor little villagers making a living. They work for industrialists, snagging sharks on miles of fishing line with hooks that snag sharks (and other fish that are thrown away). The sharks are taken aboard and their fins are sliced off. The sharks – still alive and bleeding – are thrown into the ocean to die a horrible death. They are not used to feed the hungry. So, get off your soapbox about the "poor fishermen" because you have no idea whatsoever what you're talking about.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • andres

      No doubt he was violating maritime law. Maritime law was created to protect shipping and free passage, strange sutf but it has been very effective for the last 100 years. His actions come frightfully close to piracy and with the exception of somalia few countries tolerate piracy. He will get his day in court, and from what I have seen of his actions, hopefully justice will prevail and he will do time in prison as well as lose his license.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chris R

    @andres – maritime law? Really? Are you living in a cave? Who is there to enforce this law that so many easily avoid? Maritime law does not work defectively. While I may not agree with everything this organization does to help keep nature intact and health, at least they ARE trying to do something about it. What will it take, our oceans void of life for everyone to see it and it is to late? When the oceans die, we will die.....

    May 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chris R

    @Jimbo – the fishing boat WAS breaking the law AND they had already gotten permission to tow the boat in. That is not piracy.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Seagirl

    You talk about maritime laws being broken and piracy enacted, maybe but what about the fishing quota laws and regulations. If you want Watson extradited are you then in support of breaking these regulations and disregarding set quotas? So you don't fit a word like 'pirate', nothing nearly as exciting, just say 'greedy criminal' maybe. Criminals break laws and regulations. Who polices these anyone? Nobody. Hence the existence of Sea Shepherd.

    May 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
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