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. Bkelly

    These whale war people are glorified pirates. how can anyone support these people when they put other peoples lives in danger. they need to be in jail!!!!!

    May 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tahseen ALkabeer


    May 20, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Marc

    Costa Rican and German law. Their business, not England, US, Russia etc. BTFO.

    This man is a privateer at best, but a pirate for sure. He and his crew deserve to rot in whatever prison system they end up in. They're no better than the animals coming out of Somalia.

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

      Do you live alone?

      It makes me cringe to think that somebody might have to share a roof with you.

      Vote ignorant.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Fisherman

    This guy sucks, if i wanna eat whale then i should be able to!!

    May 20, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbenison

      And if I want to eat an Alabaman I should be able to as well.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Skof Vomp e Vomp

    Bring him up on piracy charges as well. Attacking ships at sea is a crime and he and every member of his crew should be held accountable.

    May 20, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Richard

    This guy is a hero. Notice he's out fighting evil while you're sitting on your butts typing.

    May 20, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      yeah whale hunters are "evil". Your a moron

      May 20, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Surthurfurd

    If they initially had permission then what is the problem? Did someone with money buy that permission away?

    May 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rikers

    Seems like this is nothing but Costa Rica trying to bully Watson and his crew.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Reason & Logic

    Some European countries won't extradite murderers to the US because of our death penalty laws but they will consider extraditing someone who was trying to prevent cruel and inhuman treatment to defenseless animals? What gives?

    May 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Keith

    Those Sea Sheppard guys are terrorists. Lock and load no need for a trial. If you see them on the high seas you may take them out at will. Motive doesn’t not excuse terrorism.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ogre12

    this man and his crew have made a real difference. He and they are true STEWARDS of the world taking care of God's creatures where 90 percent of people care less because it is all about money.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Phil

    To quote the great thinker: Nelson: Nuke the Whales.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jt_flyer

      Gret thinker? Who knows, but we'll call that one a momentary brain fart.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DD54

    Costa Rica pretends it lives the "Pura Vida" – while in the meantime, they allow their fisherman to engage in this horrible practice of shark skinning – just not in THEIR waters – anywhere else it's okay. Costa Rica needs to step up and practice what they preach – their fisherman will next run drugs for the cartels – as crappy as that sounds, it's better than killing sharks like this......

    May 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jt_flyer

    Moral of ths story: NEVER try to keep human beings from killing something.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevininvancouver

    Good for the Germans they handled it well!

    May 20, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
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