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Interpol Issues 'Red Notice' for High-Seas Activist Paul Watson

Common Dreams staff

Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd (Photo: James Nachtwey)

Interpol issued an international arrest notice for Paul Watson, founder of marine conservation group Sea Shepherd, on Wednesday. Watson failed to meet bail conditions in Germany when he left the country for an 'unspecified destination' earlier in July, according to his lawyers. Watson's whereabouts are currently unknown.

Watson, known for his marine activism involving direct actions against illegal whaling ships, had been detained in Germany following an extradition request by Costa Rican authorities. Watson faces charges in Costa Rica stemming from a 2002 incident, when Watson's boat intercepted a Costa Rican illegal shark-finning boat off the coast of Guatemala.

Watson’s Sea Shepherd organization denounced Interpol's 'red notice' on Wednesday, calling the international effort to detain Watson part of a “politically motivated” campaign to put an end to his high-seas activism. The organization has repeatedly accused Japan of orchestrating his arrest. Watson's actions most often target the Japanese whaling industry, and the group claims its activism has cost Japan tens of millions of dollars throughout the years.

“Today’s elevation of the attack against our organization and our founder, Captain Watson, is not unexpected,” Sea Shepherd’s administrative director, Susan Hartland, stated Wednesday.

“Japan is driving this effort in retaliation for our successful campaigns to stop them from whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” she said.

“We’ve cost them millions of dollars and exposed their shame to the world because of their refusal to stop the slaughter of whales in an established sanctuary under the lie and loophole of ‘research.’”

The group claims Costa Rica’s charges of “causing a danger of drowning or of an air disaster”, are bogus.

Watson released a statement last week from an anonymous location accusing Japan of conspiring with Germany and Costa Rica, calling them “pawns in the Japanese quest to silence Sea Shepherd”.

"The German government said I betrayed their trust by leaving Germany, yet they had already betrayed my trust. The German politicians had made up their minds politically before the German court had made a decision, and during the time I was held in Germany, the Japanese negotiated with Germany to file for an extradition order to Japan on fabricated evidence..."

“I am presently in a place on this planet where I feel comfortable, a safe place far away from the scheming nations who have turned a blind eye to the exploitation of our oceans,” he said.

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