Off Topic and General Discussions > Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Anti Whaling Campaigner Capt Paul Watson arrested in Frankfurt

(1/4) > >>

Sea Shepherd founder and veteran environmentalist arrested on charges relating to Costa Rican shark-finning operation.

A veteran anti-whaling campaigner has been arrested in Germany on charges relating to an incident in 2002 when the boat he was piloting attempted to stop poachers illegally killing sharks.

The environmental activist organisation Sea Shepherd said Paul Watson had been detained at Frankfurt airport to answer a Costa Rican extradition warrant for "violating ships traffic".

The incident took place in Guatemalan waters a decade ago when Watson's boat, the Farley Mowat, encountered an illegal shark-finning operation run by a Costa Rican ship, the Varadero. Crew on the Varadero accused Watson of attempting to ram their boat and Watson was charged by Costa Rican authorities with attempted murder.

Watson's charges were subsequently dismissed when a video of the incident filmed by a documentary crew was shown to the Costa Rican prosecutor. However, the charges were later re-investigated by a newly appointed prosecutor.

Established by Watson in Malibu, California, Sea Shepherd ? which has had a number of celebrity backers such as Pierce Brosnan and Martin Sheen ? has been involved in numerous anti-whaling and environmental protection actions in international waters.

In 2006 Watson was involved in a "daunting chase" when his boat for weeks pursued a Japanese whaling fleet over 4,000 miles along the Antarctic coastline.

Sea Shepherd said: "Captain Paul Watson was arrested on 12 May and has made contact from Frankfurt airport jail. He has been given periodic access to his mobile phone and is being treated well.

"A fisherman accused Paul of trying to kill him, although it is evident that Paul did not and that evidence is on film. He said the warrant dates back to an event in 2002."

The statement added that Watson was scheduled to appear before a judge on Tuesday morning, and that it was unclear why the warrant had been re-issued.

Sea Shepherd said Watson was being assisted by Daniel Cohn Bendit, co-president of the Greens/Free European Alliance group in the European parliament, and José Bové, a group member.

"With Costa Rica's rich biodiversity, it would be a travesty for them not to stand up for sharks, which sit at the highest levels of the food chain assuring balance among ecological communities in the ocean," Sea Shepherd said.

"Paul is very touched by the concern on Facebook and Twitter and finds it very encouraging."


Paul Watson's crew eagerly await his return after being arrested in Frankfurt, Germany.

A German court has ordered #Paul_Watson, the founder of the #Sea_Shepherd Conservation Society, to remain in custody a day after his arrest on a warrant from Costa Rica.

The veteran anti-whaling campaigner, a Canadian national, was detained in Frankfurt on Sunday on charges stemming from a high seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002.

He is accused of having "put a ship's crew in danger" in the incident, a Frankfurt prosecutor said.

Watson's lawyer Oliver Wallasch said after a hearing on Monday that his client must remain in custody until the Costa Rican extradition request is considered, adding that he did not know how long the process would take.

"My client is shocked," Wallasch said.

A media report in Australia, citing Costa Rican reports, said he also faced an outstanding warrant for attempted murder during the same incident.

"The German police have said that the warrant for Captain Watson's arrest is in response to an alleged violation of ships traffic in Costa Rica, which occurred during the filming of Sharkwater in 2002," Sea Shepherd said.

The specific "violation of ships traffic" incident took place in Guatemalan waters when Sea Shepherd encountered an illegal shark finning operation, run by a Costa Rican ship called the Varadero, it added in a statement.

"On order of the Guatemalan authorities, Sea Shepherd instructed the crew of the Varadero to cease their shark finning activities and head back to port to be prosecuted," the group said.

It claimed that while escorting the Varadero back to port, the tables were turned and a Guatemalan gunboat was dispatched to intercept the Sea Shepherd crew.

"The crew of the Varadero accused the Sea Shepherds of trying to kill them, while the video evidence proves this to be a fallacy," said the group, which was set up in 1977 to campaign against the slaughter of ocean wildlife.

"To avoid the Guatemalan gunboat, Sea Shepherd then set sail for Costa Rica, where they uncovered even more illegal shark finning activities in the form of dried shark fins by the thousands on the roofs of industrial buildings."

Watson was being assisted while in custody by European Parliament members Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Jose Bove, Sea Shepherd added.

"Our hope is that these two honourable gentlemen can set Captain Watson free before this nonsense goes any further," the group said.

Sea Shepherd is best known for its annual pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica, using increasingly militant ways to halt the hunt.

This year, after setting off from Australia, the group hurled stink bombs at the boats on the high seas and used ropes to try to tangle their propellers in a series of exchanges which saw the whalers retaliate with water cannon.

The whaling fleet killed less than a third of the animals it planned to because of the sabotage attempts.

Mr. Watson’s attempted murder charge in Costa Rica stems from a bizarre situation that unfolded en route to Isla del Coco, in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, back in 2002. Mr. Watson and his organization was actually invited by Elizabeth Odio Benito, who was Minister of the Environment at the time, to come to our country and join the fight against shark fin poachers.

Mr. Watson arrived on the Farley Mowat, a vessel named after the Canadian naturalist, to Puntarenas. Mr. Watson was in command of the Farley Mowat when he allegedly rammed a Costa Rican boat suspected of illegal shark fishing. That happened near the territorial waters of Guatemala, and Mr. Watson claims that he was instructed by Guatemalan authorities to detain the Tico fishermen, which he did. After the ramming and subsequent towing of the boat, Guatemalan authorities told Mr. Watson on radio that he would be arrested for his conduct in the high seas, so he instead released the Tico boat and changed course to Costa Rica in order to avoid arrest.

According to a 2002 article in The San Francisco Chronicle, the Tico fishermen then claimed that Mr. Watson’s crew attacked them when they were adrift and engaged in mechanical repairs. They claim that the Farley Mowat crew used water cannons and pyrotechnic flares on them. Once Mr. Watson arrived in Puntarenas, it took some time before the local prosecutor ordered a ship arrest while an investigation was conducted. The Farley Mowat was freed on a bond of $850, and Mr. Watson’s attorney advised him to sail away and flee Costa Rica while he could.

Video of the events which have given rise to the current arrest warrant.

Collision with illegal shark fishing boat off coast of Costa Rica.

PETITION being promoted on behalf of Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Organisation.

Release Paul Watson!


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version