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. banasy©

    I think it's a far better solution to fin the sharks and kill the whales for "research"...
    Of course my statement was sarcasm, and I don't exactly approve of the methods he uses...he's acting criminally, himself, I agree...but what is the answer?

    May 18, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PA

    that guy is a terrorist who deserves to be locked up for the rest of his life in a third-world prison

    May 18, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • HopeFloats

      A terrorist? What civilian population is he terrorizing other than Animal Planet's viewing audience? Do you even know what a terrorist is?

      May 18, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. zooni

    Costa Rican ships are illegally fishing off Guatemala. The Argument I hear is I was breaking the law and these people stopped me, please arrest them.

    May 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scottish Mama

    @banasy-sometimes it takes a little nudge to make people think? I just cannot believe people take a fin and throw the rest away. tisk tisk.

    May 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      TELL me about it...absolutely ridiculous, Mama!

      May 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tony in Charlotte

    Capt Watson is a Super Heroe! he is one of the few that stands up for the enviroment and the protection of endareged especies! I will continue to donate money to his cause!

    May 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • brown

      Amen brother!

      May 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane Daly

      So will I Tony and so will countless others..let's focus on the peple who are intelligent and care about our planet!!!

      May 18, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mark

    "charges over a 2002 confrontation at sea with Costa Rican fishermen"

    Wow, the wheels of justice turn rapidly in Costa Rica

    May 18, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sailorgary

    This Costa Rican argument is akin to being a drug pusher and going to the police to report someone stealing your heroin.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. International Fracking Headquarters, Dallas, Texas, USA

    stop all American tourism to Germany.
    bring home the 50,000 American soldiers stationed in Germany.
    kick them off the holocaust memorial board of directors.
    take away all the military aid we give them.
    no spare parts for stuff we sold them.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • CountWestwest

      Germany receives no military aid from the US, and they produce their own weapons for the most part, which are as good or better than American weapons. What do you think would happen if the troops stationed in Germany are returned home? Please don't tell me that you believe that somehow their economy would collapse, because that is too funny for words.

      May 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dd

    He belongs in jail.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. j011254

    Watson deliberately endangers the lives of the fishing crews and of his own crew whenever he goes to sea. A hero, not when you with great consideration endanger the lives of others.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      Because the other idiots ARE breaking the Law. He is just trying to prevent them from committing CRIMES!

      May 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Chelsea

    he deserves to be treated like somali pirates.

    end of story.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      No, not really. Pull your head out.

      May 18, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Amen Amen Amen brotha!

      May 18, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walker

      the same as people who rob and murder....treated the same? ARE you kidding me???? amazing...... what have they done that is even remotely the same as the pirates??????

      May 19, 2012 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. brown

    Paul Watson is an inspiration to us all. He deserves a medal, not a bail hearing!
    Billions of people support what you are doing Paul ... keep up the fight for these beautiful creatures!

    May 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane Daly


      May 18, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John Holmes

    Why is this terrorist pirate not dead?

    May 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • phoenix224

      Because he is a good person with values unlike you.

      May 18, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gonfis

    Why is it enviros can break the law openly and with the aid of television and when someone pushes back under the law they are wrong? Oh that's right, they have to only observe the laws they set for themselves and want to force on others. What was I thinking.......

    May 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Big Al

    Looks like Newt got lost at sea and found himself defending sharks in Guatemala...

    May 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
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