'Whale Wars' captain freed on bail from German jail
Activists put up a poster calling for a German court to free Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson.
May 21st, 2012
11:02 AM ET

'Whale Wars' captain freed on bail from German jail

Controversial Sea Shepherd conservationist and "Whale Wars" star Paul Watson was released from a German jail on Monday after posting 250,000 euros ($318,000) bail in an extradition case from Costa Rica.

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 his 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 in 2002, 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.

Speaking outside the prison Monday, Watson defended what happened in the Costa Rica case.

"I had to take action with my crew a decade ago to protect hundreds of sharks, and of course, those shark poachers have very powerful allies in government and other places," he said.

The U.S.-based Sea Shepherd has denied wrongdoing in the Costa Rica case and 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.

"It's very strange that this so-called extradition thing was dismissed by Interpol in every country except Germany," Watson said Monday.

“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.”

In the 2002 incident, Sea Shepherd ship operations officer Peter Hammarstedt said, the Ocean Warrior found the Costa Rican crew killing sharks for their fins in Guatemalan waters. It initially had permission from Guatemalan authorities to stop it and tow the vessel into port, he said.

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.

Shark finning is the practice of cutting the fins off sharks and throwing the shark itself back into the sea, where they die. The fins are used for expensive soup, mostly in China.

On Monday, Watson said he hoped he could use attention the case is generating to bring a new focus on preserving life in the world's oceans.

"We have all the laws and regulations we need to protect our oceans, but we don't have governments with the guts to enforce those regulations," he said.

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Filed under: Costa Rica • Crime • Germany • Nature • Showbiz • TV
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. commentusmaximus

    Since most CNN followers are liberals, pro-LGBT and pro-Obama, I thought you were the hippie type who also loved the environment and supported efforts to stop whaling and overfishing. I thought that you'd care about the environment at the very least like most liberals of past. But you are actually condemning Watson and his heroic efforts to stop these poachers of the ocean. I guess todays liberals are just plain heartless. But then, if liberals do not care about morality, about killing unborn babies, then you probably don't care about killing whales and sharks.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • CLP

      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. "It's very strange that this so-called extradition thing was dismissed by Interpol in every country except Germany," Watson said Monday.

      I have been held in Costa Rica for 5 years and my accusers, Americans (as am I) have already settled their case in the USA, October 2010 but I have yet to get a first hearing, it is scheduled for the 60th month maximum window in June 2012 with no help from the local embassy as they are in bed with these back stabbing thieves. Watson WILL GET NO JUSTICE HERE. The folks he offended by stopping inhuman treatment of the sharks are not his biggest problem it's the fact he stopped Costa Rica's new BEST FRIEND – CHINA from getting their special shark fins to eat. China has built a national stadium, delivered over 250 Official vehicles (all Chinese makes) and they have been given Taiwanese fishing rights, its all about who you pay here – Run Watson, RUN or you will be in HELL here, they will take everything from you and then expect you to rise from the ashes after holding you for 10 years before you even have a trial. Go to Spain, I am embarrassed that Germany would entertain their ridiculous claim, especially when the fishermen (Shark Killer for China) were in another countries jurisdictional waters...??

      May 21, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bon basije

    I'm not a liberal, pro-LGBT nor pro-Obama but I certainly condemn anything that would hinder other people's efforts to stop this wanton killing of the oceans' resources, especially sharks and whales. Mr. Watson is to be commended for taking up this noble cause of preserving the oceans' endangered species.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • hang3xc

      Sharks are HARDLY endangered

      May 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. WINat

    Lock him up and throw away the key! And while your at it get that goofy looking skinny kid with the round glasses too. If it wasn't for the liberal media televising "Whale Wars" which I believe ranks right up there with "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" in quality TV, Paul Watson would be another overweight tugboat Captain on the tugboat ride at the kids amusement park. Eat more fish.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mparr22

      WINat, you can't be serious. Liberal Media? The show is broadcast on Animal Planet you tumbling tumbling di**weed.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  4. CoyoteLoco

    Captain Watson has more integrity than all the misfits in Costa Rica who destroy the ecology of the oceans in an attempt to make money by supplying shark fins to another bunch of low-lives. It's amazing that Germany is even considering the bogus extradition request from the alleged nation of Costa Rica.

    May 21, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Judge Ito

    The man is a self proclaimed pirate that violates the laws of the sea and is proud of it. Rather than do a deportation hearing, they should go with 18th century justice and hang him at the edge of the bay to show other pirates what happens.

    May 22, 2012 at 5:06 am | Report abuse |
    • nambi

      You are comparing this an to the same pirates who hold up oil tankers hold ransoms of millions of dollars before they dump toxic oil into the oceans, are you a complete moron or just fishing for an argument?

      May 22, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. magicskagit

    Sounds like the german politicians should be fed to the sharks before they are sold to China.Then the chinese would know what its like to crap a corrupt crout!(No pun intended)And I also believe Judge Ito should walk the plank.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Larry

    Can't get too excited about saving sharks. Down here they are considering making eastern diamond backs an endangered species. In Polk County,Florida, when you pull into the rest areas on I-4 they have yellow signs warning of venemous snakes.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
    • nambi

      For this reason human beings have the right to make this snake extinct? How many have you sense and how many have threatened you?

      May 22, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. nambi

    A lot of uneducated people clearly displaying their environmental knowledge. Very likely those who have never left the USA or put a tank on and gotten into the water, Watson is a very heroic individual sacrificing his entire life in the conservation of our planet for us and our children. It' astounding those against Watson throw their support for unlawful killing, extinction flat out corporate exploitation, clearly these people either troll the net for an argument or truly our world is overloaded with stupid people. I hope for humanity we are bombarded with trolls.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. sharklawyer

    Watson and his wayward band of misfits are nothing but eco-terrorists with a television show. Whether you agree with his reason for harassing these fishermen is irrelevant. The fact is his tactics and methods violate numerous admiralty laws and may arguable be considered acts of war against sovereign nations, not to mention the needless risking of lives of many for what is often fishing sanctioned by legitimate governments.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Actually, Paul Watson is enforcing laws already in place and passed by the international communities as well as US. The problem is the US will not enforce the laws, thus Bill Watson and crew do it. Get the facts prior to spouting your drivel.

      May 22, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. Phil

    The Poster should read "Hang Paul Watson"

    May 22, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  11. nambi

    There arn't enough people like me out there.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Name*Stokenfire

      Thank GOD for that!

      May 29, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • raidmagic

      So because it it's your opinion it's right? People like you are the real problem in this world, you sit on the internet and spout all that's wrong in the world but you won't get off your ass and do anything about it.

      June 1, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. brutass

    Paul is a gift to this cruel universe we live in

    May 24, 2012 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. bbs428

    I'm looking forward to a large whaler sinking this eco-terrorist for good.

    The best show by far was their boat getting smashed to pieces.

    Keep up the good work!

    May 31, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. D Peterson Carpintero

    While it's important to protect our sea life from overfishing such as these massive finning operations, Capt. Watson needs to get a clue.
    The first two episodes of this season clearly demonstrate a lack of rational thought. Sending a inexperienced pilot with ZERO skills and background when it came to ship identification into the fray of things, and then relying on his identification of the suspected vessel. By the way, who was it that the pilot was asking whether-or-not it was the Nisshin Maru in the helicopter during the flight???
    By the way, I identified the ship from the poor footage that they broadcasted on Animal Planet!
    Then sending a fiberglass ship into an Antarctic Storm, this WAS NOT the biggest demonstration of a GOOD judgement!

    June 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cododd

    Watson isn't a hero or sacrificing his life at sea, he's a radical hippy with way too much time and money on his hands, And conserving the planet for our children? When was the last time you said to yourself, "Gee I sure am glad that one day my kid will be able to swim with gray whales in the south pacific ocean or with sharks in costa rica." Please. This planet is covered almost entirely by water, there's plenty of whales to kill, eat or experiment on. Quit putting this idiot on a pedestal, leave the law enforcement to professionals not a bunch of liberal hippies on a boat with smoke grenades and empty skulls, or on second thought leave em out there maybe they'll learn their lesson when they crawl into a watery grave.

    July 6, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
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