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. ANDY B

    guys, never mind maritime or international law, WHAT ABOUT THE WHALES AND THE FISHES?

    May 18, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ellen

    It was 10 years ago! Toss the case out of court Germany.

    May 18, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane Daly

      Well said Ellen...

      May 18, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JW

    These hippies are so stupid its funny to watch. Definitely has you rooting for the whalers to run them over.

    May 18, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    The man is a hero and deserves a reward for his work at preserving the oceans and its animals that get victimized.

    May 18, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chelsea

      You're absolutely right Mike. Paul Watson is a hero and he deserves thanks for protecting our world.

      May 18, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mona

    Guatemala gave him permission to stop the Costa Rican fisherman. It's too bad they don't treat these illegal fisherman and "research" vessels like they do with poachers on land-shoot them dead. If they had adopted that earlier on land, species of rhinos wouldn't be going extinct and herds of elephants wouldn't be wiped out for ivory.

    May 18, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walker

      more tigers in zoos than in the wild, polar bears, cheetahs, orangutan and gorillas to name just a few - all in danger of being extinct during our lifetime! ALL because of humans through hunting, loss of habitat and for furs. But hey, let's go ahead and hunt and KILL those who are on the endangered species list and that are supposed to be protected, like several of the whales that are killed in an international sanctuary all in the name of research!!! Why does it take 1500 whales each year to conduct their research....

      May 19, 2012 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. don

    I still don't see how any television network is not held accountable for supporting acts of piracy, let alone this group of "activists"

    May 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. VinceRN

    I used the email links they provided to send emails based on their suggested text, but modified to encourage the extradition of this pirate. It's very considerate of them to put up those links.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitch VanDerlandt

      Vince RN: I'm sure they're going to take some male nurse's opinion seriously. Get real, Nancy.

      May 18, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Domesticated Primate

      Good God the shills are out in force for this story. Calling him a "pirate" is inane, and isn't it funny how the pirates off Somalia are still piratin' (you know, for MONEY like actual pirates tend to be after) but a guy with a big water hose gets busted. It's like sending Martha Stewart to prison for insider trading while Goldman-Sachs suits get record bonuses.

      The world is upside-down and y'all don't seem to notice.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dao

    more power to him.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • ANDY B

      actually less power. they are trying to take his freedom b/c he is a crook and a terrorist.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Diane Daly

    Paul Watson is a HERO...How many whales have you saved..??? Seems silly to go after a man who is brave enough to stand up for his beliefs. He is willing to give up his life and freedom for a worthy cause. What have you done lately for your beliefs???

    May 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Qwe

      Diane Daly,
      Bin Laden risked his life for his beliefs as you think he's a hero?

      May 18, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      No but is clear you are an idiot!!!!!

      May 19, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Charles W. Skinner

      Paul Watson is a TERRORIST. Or didn't you know that sank ships that were no longer his property. Portuguese authorities seized Watson's ship to compensate the whalers for damages after Watson rammed another vessel, but before it could be sold, Watson managed to slip aboard his ship and sink it. Several months later, the Sierra (the vessel he rammed) was blown up. In 1986, Paul Watson claimed responsibility for sinking two Icelandic whaling vessels.

      May 18, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • hikertom

      Terrorists kill people. Paul Watson has never killed anyone. He is charged with using water cannons to stop shark finning. We need more people like him. I am going to send a contribution to the Sea Shephard Society.

      May 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • IAMBeowolf

      Nice try. Watson is doing good in this world as opposed to you who is just an i d i o t

      May 18, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • texasmike

      Paul Watson thanks you for your simplistic view of the world and supporting a self aggrandizing lifestyle of a sea going grifter.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Rusty

      paul watson is a criminal and deserves anything he gets. he endangers the crews of these vessels and should be held to account. there are enough things trying to kill you at sea with out one of these eco-terrorists making it worse.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • bgjtenn

      that dude is a nut and big enough to be a whale himself....he is consuming way more than his share of the food supply.

      May 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • addison

      I believe in killing conservatives... so if I start killing them.. I will be a hero?

      May 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      Ya, and we should also think about their SS tactics, them destroying some poor family's income and way of life, and lets not forget that they are, by our OWN U.S definition... are TERRORIST! And until they change their MO should be treated as such.

      May 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave 2344

      That HERO as you call him, used to advicate tree spiking in the Pacific Northwest, so that loggers would be injured. Never saw him on the front lines fighting any forest fires though. He tried to swamp a canoe that was legally hunting a single whale off Port Angeles as well. He is a coward who tries to get media attention through his actions of hurting others. Do a little more research before labelling him a hero. He hasn't been around for just a season or two of his show.

      May 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      I killed two terrorist today! What have you done besides bleed americas welfare system dry.

      May 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Florice

      I agree with you fully. SAVE THE WHALES

      May 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • michael

      whale tastes gross I ate it in Alaska when my Eskimo friends brought me some.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Hawkman100

      And we can only hope that he gives up his freedom for a very, very long time.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. r3ba

    Paul Watson you are my hero you risk your life to help animals i know i want my grandchildren to be able to see whales and sharks. You do every thing you can to help i want to thank you for your courage and hope 🙂

    May 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane Daly

      Finally a person who cares about Whales and our planet!!! I was begining to loose hope ...thank you r3ba

      May 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • ken

      Paul Watson needs to be in jail and his groupies with him. He's no different than a false prophet. He gets these young gulable dummies to follow him while he is nothing more than a terrorist. He's not interested in what's right, he wants to shove his version of truth on the rest of the world. I say if they want to hunt whales and it's legal then leave them alone. What's he eating? If it's salad he's eating a drum full. He probably has cheese burgers hid under his bunk while these dumb nerds run the ship.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tyler

    I think it's sad the views posted by others here, the fact of the matter is that if the whole world thought like you people do then our oceans would be dead and humans would be suffering. What Sea Shepherd does is of course extreme, that's the only way our oceans can be saved at this point due to ineffective international laws and governments who's only concern is money. Our oceans are on and have been on a steep decline over the past 100 years and are only getting worse unless more people and/or governments wake up and realize what is happening at this very moment to us.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane Daly

      Tell them TYLER!!!!! Well Said!!!!

      May 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • OliverW

      Mr. Watson's stunts may look very heroic to some, but i believe that they are strongly motivated by the need of his massive ego for recognition. His harassment of vessels in international waters is dangerous to Watson and his own crew as well as that of the vessels that he is "attacking". The fact that there are organizations breaking international law on the high seas does not confer authority on Watson to do so also. By all means, record and document the violations, but don't play the Caped Crusader and expect to get away with it!

      Most importantly however, his actions are making absolutely no difference to the price of tea in China, and will not succeed in "savIng" the planet's oceans. Our species's proliferation and its collective greed and ignorance have long ago brought us to the point of no return. We will be faced, perhaps in our lifetime, perhaps in our children's, with cataclysmic natural disasters and further extinction of species (including possibly, nay hopefully, our own ;-)) as the planet corrects the severe imbalances created by our tireless human meddling.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Florist

    Oh, didn't you see? He already got shot once. LOL

    May 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jimbo

    I just went to that website and sent two emails supporting extradition. He towed a boat by force, how is that not piracy!

    May 18, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      Watch the documentary Sharkwater, he was given permission by the Costa Rican authorities.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Qwe

      I know that they all appear the same to you, but Guatemala is not the same country as Costa Rica...

      May 18, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sea Shepherd Forever

      I just went to the website and donated $100 to free Paul Watson.

      May 18, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Qwe

      You have a hundred dollars?

      May 18, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Satch

      Me too!

      The Florida Museum of Natural History compares these statistics with the much higher rate of deaths from other, less feared causes. For example, an average of more than 38 people die annually from lightning strikes in coastal states, while less than 1 person per year is killed by a shark.[14][15]

      In comparison, 100 million sharks are killed every year by humans.[16][17][18]

      We are a disgusting, wasteful, murderous species, with so much potential and greed and ignorance ruins us.

      May 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck


      May 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • steven

      just followed your lead! How terribly sad there seems to be people who apparently will only be satisfied when the last dollar of greed has been drained from the bloodsteam of the very last wild thing on earth. What then, people? Who's bravery will you feeled compelled to whine about next? What incredible foolishness and short sightedness. Shame on your coward's world view.

      June 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      He had permission from their government.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      It could be a lot of things, including kidnapping (taking someone by force), but it's not piracy. Piracy would include theft of the ship and/or goods on board. Watson did neither. When someone is tried for piracy, if there was anyone on board, they are also charged with kidnapping, etc.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he is innocent, but what I am saying is watch what you accuse people of. While he is guilty of many things, piracy, thus far, isn't one of them.

      May 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian

      Piracy – an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea so yes it is piracy.

      May 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • louisrichards

      Ocean Warrior came upon a "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."

      How is that "piracy", Einstein? Learn to Read & COMPREHEND before you open your ignoarant mouth!

      May 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Language

      He was told by the government of Costa Rica he could and when he was told to let them go, he did.

      May 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mikebugger


    May 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ANDY B

    so does not agreeing with piracy or trying to force your will and beliefs on others considered 'not caring about the earth or animals?'

    so sick of extremist and protesters

    May 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
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