Interpol issues wanted notice for ‘Whale Wars’ star
Paul Watson, seen here speaking to reporters in Berlin in May, skipped bail last month.
August 9th, 2012
12:51 PM ET

Interpol issues wanted notice for ‘Whale Wars’ star

Interpol has issued an international wanted notice for conservationist and “Whale Wars” TV star Paul Watson, days after he skipped bail in Germany as Costa Rica tried to have him extradited.

Watson was arrested at Germany’s Frankfurt airport on May 13 on an arrest warrant issued by Costa Rica, which accuses him of endangering a fishing vessel off the coast of Guatemala in 2002.

He posted roughly $302,000 bail and was ordered to remain in Germany as it considered Costa Rica’s extradition request, but he stopped reporting to authorities on July 22, a German court said. Watson left Germany and forfeited his bail, according to his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which isn’t revealing his location.

“Following confirmation from German authorities that Paul Watson had failed to satisfy the bail conditions established by the German courts and had fled the country, Costa Rican authorities renewed their request” for Interpol to issue an international wanted notice for Watson, which Interpol did Tuesday, Interpol said.

Costa Rican authorities allege that Watson - whose attempts to disrupt Japanese whalers at sea gained him fame on Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars” TV show - and his crew aboard Sea Shepherd’s Ocean Warrior ship endangered a Costa Rican fishing vessel during a confrontation off Guatemala’s coast.

The U.S.-based Sea Shepherd denies the allegations, arguing that the charges have less to do with law than with Watson’s anti-conservationist enemies.

In the 2002 incident, according to Sea Shepherd ship operations officer Peter Hammarstedt, the Ocean Warrior found a Costa Rican crew killing sharks for their fins in Guatemalan waters. The Ocean Warrior 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, but “there were no injuries and no physical damage to any ship,” Hammarstedt said in May.

The Ocean Warrior did stop 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 sharks back into the sea, where they die. The fins are used for expensive soup, mostly in China.

The current charge, according to Interpol, is “causing a danger of drowning or of an air disaster.”

Sea Shepherd says that “anyone who’s viewed the documentary can clearly see the charges are bogus.”

“The water cannon Captain Watson allegedly used to stop the illegal shark finners never reached the wheelhouse, thereby having no possibility of interfering with their safe navigation, nor were there any aircraft overhead at the time so as to potentially cause an ‘air disaster,’” Sea Shepherd said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Interpol’s wanted notices, called red notices, are sent to police agencies across the world, but they are not arrest warrants.

“Each of Interpol’s 190 member countries must apply their national laws and standards in determining whether it may detain or arrest the wanted person,” Interpol says.

May 2012: Bail set for ‘Whale Wars’ star in extradition fight

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Filed under: Costa Rica • Courts • Crime • Environment • Germany • Justice • Nature
soundoff (451 Responses)
  1. bob barker

    im gettin sick of bailing out this guy.

    August 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    I like turtles!

    August 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pootie Tang

    I smoke weed and eat meat!

    August 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BamaMike011

    What about the TV show???.....Guess he will have to reemerge to film the show.....LOL

    August 11, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. scarlettmama

    With all the starving, suffering, poor, war torn children in the world-its a CRIME that these people are devoting attention to this cause. Save our people first-the whales can come after.
    Think of all the good that could be done to suffering HUMANS with those resources. So sad.
    I can't stand these people and what they stand for, for this fact alone.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jake

    People who feel that there are proper channels in countries far more corrupt than our own need to read less main stream media news and do some research. In places like Aruba we can go through proper channels to stop human trafficking too, based on their logic.

    August 11, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kujohn

    Pretty sure the US is not gonna exttradite mr Watson to a corrupt 3rd world country For a farce of a trial

    August 12, 2012 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chuck

    Nothing but a Criminal with a TV show

    August 12, 2012 at 5:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jim

    South Park nailed this guy a long time ago.

    August 12, 2012 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      I understand what the Sea Shepherds are trying to do, but I don't like how Animal Planet is praising these guys as heros. Yes, they're trying to save animals, but they're breaking the law.

      August 12, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. Gigs

    Is anyone interested in this article or is everything evolved around politics? Paul Watson is an extraordinary human being who has dedicated his life trying to save our oceans. He is my hero and the way he is being treated is disgusting. If you don't understand the Sea Shepherds cause then read up on why and what they do. Humans are destroying this earth each day and if we don't have someone like Paul Watson on our side we will become doomed sooner than anyone can imagine!

    August 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • i'mclear

      they broke the law while helping slaves to freedom too – the law does not always represent what is morally right – the cause is for a greater good and he 'endangered' only

      August 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • idk anymore

      Still not above the law though. I support their efforts too, donated to fund the Bob Barker, but I think if the charges against him were bogus, he should have been patient and stood up to them instead of breaking the law. Just because he saves the whales doesn't mean that he's allowed to skip court on bail.

      August 12, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • w.g wilson

      Paul Watson is amazing all right... I am always amazed at hypocrites like him who value an animal's life over that of a human being. This man is a horrible human being, and hopefully he'll get a few years in prison to think about his behavior.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • J. Smith

      A lot of people think of Blackbeard as a hero... but he was still a pirate. Any vessel fired upon by a water cannon at sea has international justification to fire back with deadly force. This idiot is lucky that someone stopped him in court before the inevitable burial at sea he was cruising towards.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • SAm

      He's a piece of shot who thinks he's better than everyone else. I truly hope one of the fishermen shoots him someday when he tries to stop them from their jobs

      August 13, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. ThatDCGuy

    SPAMmer. Nothing to do with the above post. Seriously. I don't care what you do, but find something to occupy your time outside of posting on the interwebs

    August 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. idk anymore

    I respect what they do for the environment, but that doesn't mean that they're above the law. I actually used to be an avid supporter, but this is just too much.

    August 12, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin Time

      This fool does nothing for the environment. He's a dangerous, attention seeking egotist, living off grant money, and donations from well-meaning, ill-informed idiots. His antics will get someone killed one of these days.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. danielwalldammit

    Interesting; he usually seems to have a pretty effective legal strategy. This may be a rather bad sign.

    August 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lee

    Frankly, I don't care if he broke the law. There aren't enough laws protecting animals from this sort of cruelty. Shame to the countries who care more about their public image than the welfare of their wildlife and ecosystems.

    August 12, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. john

    About time he is shown for what he is. an eco-terrorist. If you are so rightous face the consequences. No different than any other terrorist who believes that his way is the ONLY rightous way for the world.

    August 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
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