Yesterday we posted news of Captain Paul Watson bail-skipping out of Germany and into free water. Today his attorney reveals knowledge of an additional extradition request from the Japanese Embassy, submitted July 19th to the German Foreign Office.
Germany had been proceeding with Watson’s extradition to Costa Rica. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society had concerns that Watson’s life would be in danger or he would be extradited to Japan. Today, those suspicions were confirmed by Watson’s attorney.
“I received confirmation today from Germany’s General Public Prosecutor that Japan filed an extradition request against Paul Watson on July 19th,” said Oliver Wallasch, lead German Counsel for Captain Paul Watson. “Germany was proceeding with Captain Watson’s extradition to Costa Rica and, once there, there is no doubt he would have been delivered into Japanese custody,” said Susan Hartland, Administrative Director for Sea Shepherd. “Upon being extradited to Japan, he would not have received a fair trial and would never have seen the outside of a prison again,” she added.
Even with a rumored bounty of at least $25K on his head by shark-finners in Costa Rica, Watson was prepared to go to Costa Rica of his own volition (not via extradition) and answer to charges of a violation of ship traffic involving water cannon usage back in 2002. However, he then learned his arrest had caught Japan’s attention and they contacted the German Ministry of Justice to strike a deal with them. This deal would involve Germany not objecting to a request made by Japan to Costa Rica to turn Watson over to Japan.
Japan has in the past attempted to have Captain Watson arrested through an Interpol ‘red notice,’ but they have not been granted that ‘red notice’ because Interpol has not seen any validity in the request. In fact, Interpol held the same position with the Costa Rican warrant; it was dismissed. Yet Germany arrested Captain Watson on May 13th despite the politically motivated warrant and decided to entertain the request by Costa Rica on a bilateral basis — on behalf of both Costa Rica and Japan.
“Japan’s attempts to broker backroom deals with Germany and Costa Rica along with bringing litigation against Sea Shepherd in the U.S. are desperate attempts to stop Captain Watson and will never thwart Sea Shepherd’s continued work to protect our oceans,” said Hartland. “We operate under the United Nations World Charter for Nature to uphold international conservation laws and directly intervene against illegal activities on the high seas. Japan is under the false impression that if they jail Captain Watson, they will halt our campaigns to protect ocean wildlife. It’s time Japan realizes nothing they do will stop us from protecting whales and other marine wildlife for future generations everywhere,” she added.
Captain Watson had been detained in Germany for 70 days despite thousands of letters of support sent to the German Ministry of Justice from the public, celebrities, politicians and other luminaries arguing for his release of these politically motivated warrant. He was arrested in Frankfurt on May 13th on a 10-year-old warrant from Costa Rica while en route to Cannes, France. He was being detained in Germany for extradition to Costa Rica for an alleged “violation of ships’ traffic,” which occurred during the 2002 filming of the award-winning documentary, Sharkwater. The specific incident took place on the high seas in Guatemalan waters, when Sea Shepherd encountered an illegal shark-finning operation run by Costa Rican vessel, the Varadero. On order of Guatemalan authorities, Sea Shepherd instructed the crew of the Varadero to cease their shark-finning activities and head back to port to be prosecuted. While escorting the Varadero back to port, the tables were turned and a Guatemalan gunboat was dispatched to intercept the Sea Shepherd crew. To avoid the Guatemalan gunboat, Sea Shepherd then set sail for Costa Rica, where the crew uncovered even more illegal shark-finning activities in the form of dried shark fins by the thousands on the roofs of industrial buildings.