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. Chelsea

    I don't remember specifying the head, but I agree, that's a home run. Ask any marksman.

    Yes, they should be torpedoed and the survivors left to the sharks. The irony. 🙂

    May 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chelsea

    One can still do constructive work for environmental causes...without resorting to terrorist tactics.

    The moron actually hurts the causes if anything...

    May 18, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mikebugger

    I hate this man like very few others on earth. I don't want to see dead whales but he and his ragtag bunch of hippie terrorists go about it in way that breaks about every maritime law on the books. Only a matter of time for this fat slob makes a big mistake and human lives are lost. They may be the Japs, or maybe the hippies. Time will tell.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. harry noyes

    I assume most of the authors of anti-Watson posts are paid employees of the ocean-murdering fishing/whaling industry. So be it. Not one of them is qualified to comment on this very complicated area of international law. Suffice it to say that the Sea Shepherds is a tax-exempt non-profit based in the U.S.A,, the most terrorist-loathing country on Earth. If this guy was doing anything truly terroristic, Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney could shut him down. Why is it that no navy in the world is protecting the fishing fleets against the Sea Shepherd's allegedly criminal acts? Could it just be because, while the Sea Shepherds are vigilantes, they are not the ones breaking international law? The Sea Shepherds cite a U.N. Charter for Nature, which clearly calls for action by groups and individuals to protect nature in international territory, as justification. Some legal experts question that charter, but you can read the document yourselves and decide for yourselves at the Sea Shepherd website. Personally I have never seen the Sea Shepherds endangering any lives except their own. Civilly disobedient hell raisers they may be, but terrorists? Criminals? Personally I prefer them to bottom-trawling, bycatch-dumping shrimpers and intelligent-creature-murdering whalers. But that's just me. Let's see how the German courts rule, It could be very interesting. The last criminal case against Watson, for stopping a seal slaughter in Canada, led to his vindication by the Canadian Supreme Court. Maybe the German courts will take a similar tack. In the meantime, I'm going to remember who asked the Germans to arrest him in the first place. Costa Rica is coming off my list of countries I (used to) respect and off my list of the places I might ever visit to watch wildlife. Or is it now a crime for me to choose where to spend my own money?

    May 18, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walker

      Harry, beautifully stated.....I sooo agree with you!

      May 19, 2012 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. SOS

    It's funny how you conservatives toss around the word "terrorist" all the time when someone goes against your idiotic religious beliefs.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • RockyMarshall

      Merriam-Webster
      Definition of ECOTERRORISM

      : sabotage intended to hinder activities that are considered damaging to the environment .
      What was it you were saying again?
      This guy should have been shot and killed years ago, Board/Ram or Foul my Vessel at sea and you will die.Good luck getting maritime law to convict me.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tha Chikin

    So Andy... I guess that everyone that goes in the water and gets chomped on by a bull shark is just the sharks taking their territory back huh? As you say... survival of the fittest.

    Yes... even humans can be dinner.

    Just because we are the dominant force on the planet doesn't mean we should just lay waste to everything in sight. What's funny is; it is very possible that sharks hold the answer to a cure for cancer. If we wipe them all out, we are only killing ourselves. But hey, who cares... let's just use it all up... We don't really need clean water, animals, fresh air...

    May 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marc Q

      The world is a vampire, sent to drain
      Secret destroyers, hold you up to the flames
      And what do I get, for my pain
      Betrayed desires, and a piece of the game
      Even though I know, I suppose I'll show
      All my cool and cold, like old job
      Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage

      Stay strong Paul Watson
      And keep on fighting Sea Shepherd

      May 19, 2012 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
    • okc

      Hey, isn't it just evolution...........we are the ominate species and we can use anything we want..........don't you beleive in evolution????............you must be some kind of religious fanatic.

      May 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • chicago1812

      You realize for every five or six humans killed by sharks a year over three millions sharks are killed by fisherman? Then again, you're probably too stupid to know this.

      May 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • kman02

      Rational minds cannot reason with idiots. Face it. Some people think that since we are the dominant apex predator on the planet, so it is okay for us to do as we will. These people don't get 'food chain' logic because they are too stupid to pass high school biology.

      May 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon Lewis

      @Tha Chikin; It's possible that there is a diamond in my butt too.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Frosty

    By definition Paul Watson and the rest of his crew are pirates and vigilantes. They even fly a pirate flag on their ship. Now, people can argue that they are doing good by trying to stop the slaughter of whales, which in itself is a good thing. But breaking the law in order to enforce it is vigilantism and there is no place for it in civilization. Law is what binds society together. If we were allowed to pick and choose which laws we will obey, the world would crumble into anarchy. Sea Shepard is performing criminal acts just the same as their adversaries and should be held responsible for their actions the same as their adversaries. What we need is a group that protects the sharks and whales of the world using the law with authority from International courts and the U.N.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rose

      What happened to extradition for the Nazi criminals who lived the good life in Central and South America. Free Paul Watson. Germany has no business interfering, and if they do, many of us will not buy German good or services. If guys like Paul Watson didn't exist, the conservative billionaires would steal every last natural resource this world has to offer. And you damned republicans can go to hell.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ydnar

      But what laws are being broken? The ones not being enforced?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rose

    If it were left up to conservative republicans, the world would be a skeletel frame.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chelsea

    A hero is a fisherman who works hard to feed his family. Much like a farmer.

    This imbecile is just another egomaniac with money and a stupid TV show.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SOS

    Shouldn't all you Glenn Beck conservatives be posting on FOX?

    May 18, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Shouldn't you just shut up?

      May 19, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. AZWarrior

    Hazarding a vessel at sea is an international crime. Regardless of the reason, he is not above the law. Hope that he spends many years in prison and that the International community outlaws all taking of whales.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      AZWarrior. You're pathetic. You don't even recognize when someone is trying to keep the world intact for your children.

      May 18, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Chelsea

    paul watson is not unlike some cult leader from California or Texas

    May 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lisa Simone

    If that Costa Ricans claim is true, how does it possible they didn't go after SeaSheppard earlier, It sounds like and smells like a false flag operation to me , lets see if mighty German justice( if we can call it that way) will bend for some corrupt country request !!!

    May 18, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • RockyMtn

      Read up, they did. Watson escaped Costa Rica to avoid arrest shortly after the incident.

      May 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chelsea

    If you want to save the whales, put Jenny Craig and Richard Simmons in prison.

    🙂

    May 18, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rose

    Paul Watson is a man who puts his money where his mouth is. Instead of stealing from the poor, he is tackling the rich. He isn't some ignorant, brainwashed, mealy-mouthed little republican parrot who believes in the lies of trickle down economics. He sees what's happening and he is battling the rich. And that's what this is. Protecting the billionaires – ridding the world of those who fight for this earth. FREE PAUL WATSON!

    May 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
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