Paul Watson, the leader of the marine activist group Sea Shepherd, remains detained in Frankfurt, Germany over crimes committed in Costa Rica, and faces possible extradition to the Central American country. While he waits on bail for a formal decision to be made by the Costa Rican government, he is protesting that there are no grounds for charges, and his arrest is politically motivated, with a direct contribution from Japan.
The Sea Shepherd organization alleges that Japan, which has labeled Paul Watson as an “eco-terrorist” and requested that Interpol place him on their “wanted” list, has funded Costa Rica with roughly $9 million in order to get him extradited. Watson’s group has had numerous encounters with Japanese whaling ships, and goes to such as extremes as throwing stink bombs at the crews of the ships, or even trying to sink them by ramming them with his own boat.
Sea Shepherd points out that while he was originally arrested in Costa Rica back in 2002, extradition orders weren’t placed on Watson until October of 2011, which is the same time the Japanese government filed charges against him in a U.S. court. Watson also directs attention to the fact that Laura Chinchilla Miranda, Costa Rica’s president, met with Japan’s Emperor Akihito in November of 2011, and less than six months later a $9 million donation was made for Costa Rica to protect its national parks. The filing of charges by Costa Rica and the detainment in Germany are all a result of pressure from the Japanese government, Watson claims.
The 2002 crime is itself questionable, as Watson was charged ramming a boat, the Varadero I, and injuring two fisherman, a violation of navigational regulations. But Costa Rica still allowed him to leave the country. Sea Shepherd claims the incident never occurred in Costa Rican waters, there were never any injuries or damage done, and the men were actually illegally fishing for sharks, a crime they had previously been convicted of. While everything seems circumstantial at this point, on both sides of the argument, Paul Watson will have to remain in Germany for the time being, waiting for Costa Rica to file official paperwork.[Via The Guardian]