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. Dud

    The Germans have bigger fish to fry, as it were...

    May 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ernie

    Agreed that this man and his crew are absolutely heroes!! I would like to nominate them for the
    Nobel Peace Prize. I mean it. Nothing infuriates me more than animal cruelty and abuse, especially
    when it's totally unnecessary!
    I'll take the animal kingdom over most human beings any day. If animals kill, it's out of necessity and instinct.
    We on the other hand are hell bent on using up, and spitting out, this beautiful planet. We are the McMansion
    builders! We love our bulldozers, and our guns. What a proud race we are.

    May 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carnivore

      Yep, if it wasn't for them I probably would of never ate whale.

      May 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Patrick

    Captain Watson and the rest of the Sea Shepherd crew are heroes. How can anyone condone and defend the slaughter of these magnificent mammals? They are certainly more intelligent, and most assuredly more deserving to be on this planet than some of the people who have posted comments here. Sad really that some humans think they are so much superior to other animals. In those cases you really start to wonder about the the human brain, or lack thereof...

    May 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • ObjectiveOpinion

      You are correct.

      May 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Darkguardian1314

    If you fly the "Jolly Rogers" on the open seas don't expect a warm welcome.

    May 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    Off with his head! Thank my joking?

    May 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JDalco

    GOOD hope they convict him on piracy. . . just because it is "for the wales" does not make it legel

    May 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tank2

    Hope they serve him shark fin soup in prison!

    May 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ObjectiveOpinion

    We need to leave the fish in the sea alone. They are better caretakers of the planet than we are. The whales, the sharks, all creatures in the sea should be left alone. The shark fin soup, where the cut a sharks fins off and throw the shark back into the water...I wish the sharks could bite off the arms of those fisherman, and throw them back on land and see how they like it.

    May 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Turdlock

    Shiver me timbers......make the criminal walk the plank in the shark fin infested waters.

    May 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    I wathced this show thinking I would support what they are doing. Instead I think this guy is a complete nut. I watched an episod where he was trying to keep a town in Ireland from performing their yearly tradition of driving the fish to the beach and yes, they would kill them, but everyone in the town was able to take the fish home for free. While they tried to present this as ahorriable slaughter, it was the same as we do chickens or cows here in the US. The only difference was there the visual of blood in the water. Same amount of blood you would see in a slaughter house, but because it was in the water, they made it out to be this insane killing.

    Dude the people were eating the fish, whay is the problem ?

    It is more inhumane to catch a bass in a lake, tear its mouth with the hook only to let it go.

    This dude is warped and should stay in jail.

    May 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Yum

    I dislike, i love whale meat, its quite delicious.

    May 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JJ

    I hate Libs with a passion, but strangely I support what these guys do. Go figure. Hopefully he'll not be turned over to a country with no real laws like Costa Rica.

    May 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • robert

      maybe if you were able to look beyond your personal biases and hatred you would find you have more in common with Libs than you think. You can start by doing what they do in a court of law; assumption of innocence. Libs want what you want, to live free and provide for their familes, the only thing that differs is the ideas of how that is best done.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alter Ego

      You are not alone. I was thinking the same thing today.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bob B

    Paul Watson beleives in what he is doing and so do I. Alot of humans think they can kill anything they want without it effecting the planet and they are wrong. If he had the permission from the government to be there how can they change their minds after ten years or at all? I watch the show everytime it's on and he has my support 100%.

    May 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Denise

    Love this guy and what he does to make a difference in the world. He's no couch potato.

    May 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Coastie Mike

    This guy has committed what amounts to attempted piracy based off the footage aired on Animal Planet. Whether you agree with his political agenda or not, he is a criminal by maritime law standards. The only reason the majority of his crimes have gone unpunished is because they occur in the SMTJ (Google it) and there are no authorities present. His blatant violations of UNCLOS and the International Rules of the Road (Google that too) have finally caught up with him.

    May 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbenison

      Maybe the reason he never gets charged is because he confronts those that are clearly breaking the law. And the last place a lawbreaker ever wants to find themself is in a courthouse.

      What part of digging up a 10 year old incident to be tried in Central America doesn't look like a witch hunt?

      May 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • PLZ

      Ecosystem (Google that)

      May 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
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