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. Jamie81

    Why should the U.S. government boycott Germany? Watson isn't even an American, he's Canadian.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • ConvenienceForeverFreshnessNever

      Pathetic Canadian is what he is. Feed him to the sharks and then ingest the batsard through tasty shark fin soup.

      May 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pierre

      Quite right about him being a Canadian. I work for the Canadian Coast Guard, and a few years ago we stopped one of his pirate ships, the Farley Mowat, and had it towed into port. Same old story with these supposed good guys, especially since they do consider themselves modern day pirates. Good for Germany, and hope they give him over to the Costa Rican Governement, he needs to feel the heat a bit. The Sea Shepherd Society is more of a money maker than a conservation group, and he has already admitted to that, and it can be seen on YouTube.

      May 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam Renna

      @Jamie: He's a Canadian who is working to save the oceans of the world. Get it? And Pierre, really, no one at all like the French, so save your little speech.

      May 18, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chelsea

    Nobody should be above the LAW, not even thugs with TV shows.

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

    About time this APE (absolute pig egomaniac) terrorist is arrested. How about going after his co-conspirators including Animal planet on RICO. I going to enjoy a good steak on this news.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe Sullivan

    I live in Costa Rica and have for many years. I am quite familiar with the political situation here. They have adopted "Napoleonic Law" as the standard. This states that each case is tried individually and any preceding cases will set no precedent. This means that the body of law here fits in a few books taking up about two or three feet of space, whereas the body of law in other countries will fit in a rather modest library.

    The unfortunate upshot of this non-system is that anybody can "denounce" anyone for anything, whether based in fact or perceived.

    I wasn't there at the event he is accused of, but that makes no difference. I could have gone to any local police station, or the local courthouse, and denounced him because I didn't like what he did.

    This, is, of course not the case. These people have no respect for animals at all. Shark finning should be stopped.

    He is not a terrorist. He is a crusader and a friend of the sea.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      He and his people should get the same treatment as the Somalian Pirates.

      May 18, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Elmer Fudd

    The John Brown of our age.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • howie phelterbush

      John Brown was a terrorist who murdered innocent people.

      May 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dana

    Sink his boats, or at seize them as pirate ships.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RugDumplin

    Yeah he's awful we don't need anymore animals than we already have! An extinction of any living thing at the hands of man is the crime. When it's gone everyone pays the price.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RJ

    Paul Watson is doing what most of us can't or don't have time to do. He has made an impact in saving many of the sharks and whales.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmmiller85

      He's an anarchist and a thug. And loves the TV camera. Prosecute him.

      May 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. someone help us

    Paul is a little extreme, but that's what it takes these days to get anyones attention. Either we'll kill off the oceans and starve ourselves, or hopefully, one day, soon... mother nature will push the reset button on this planet and Nature can start all over again.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      @someone help us.....To save to planet I'll push the reset button, now.

      May 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. James

    Man, this guy needs to get a LIFE!

    May 18, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gaucho420

    I don't like his tactics, but I do like the fact that he brings up things I otherwise would never know about. And the show is pretty entertaining. I hope he doesn't have to face "justice" in Costa Rica...does Costa Rica and Justice, EVER, go hand in hand?

    May 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John

    What a bunch of thugs!!! trying to protect endangered animals! The nerve of these people risking their lifes for those animals.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mona

    Love these guys and the work they do! The Costa Rican fishermen were ILLEGALLY ripping the fins off the sharks in Guatemalan water and Watson and his crew had permission from their Government to stop them.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Easy E

    This guy may be a bit out there, but he's on the right track. Oh course, all of the sarcastic fools will claim otherwise, but we humans are rapidly destroying our life support system on this planet. If anyone is insane, it's the people defending the status quo. Responsible, sustainable management of fisheries is in everyone's best interest regardless of whether you consider yourself an animal lover. If you like wild caught seafood and want to eat in the future, then get behind conservation efforts, and fast.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dave

    It would be interesting to see the Sea Shepherds go to Alaska and go after the crab boats! Then we could have "Whale Wars meets Deadliest Catch–A clash of two worlds!"

    May 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
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