Embattled marine conservationist and Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson on Monday issued his first public message since disappearing from Germany on July 22. Watson had been held under house arrest pending an extradition request from Costa Rica on 2002 charges of endangering a ship’s crew.
In a post on Sea Shepherd’s website, the silver-haired captain said his May 13 arrest in Frankfurt was the result of a conspiracy between Costa Rica, Germany and Japan to force Watson, 61, to face criminal charges over a 2010 incident at high seas involving the Japanese ship Shonan Maru #2 and Sea Shepherd’s Ady Gil. In that incident, Watson said the Japanese ship rammed the Ady Gil, “nearly killing six people.”
Watson said the former captain of Ady Gil, Peter Bethune, provided Japanese authorities “false evidence” implicating Watson in the incident.
“The German politicians had made up their minds politically before the German court had made a decision [on Costa Rica’s extradition request], 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 provided by former Sea Shepherd Crewmember, Peter Bethune,” Watson wrote from an undisclosed location.
“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,” Watson wrote.
Watson said that on July 22 he learned of a decision by German authorities to approve a Japanese extradition request on July 23.
Earlier this year, Costa Rica filed an extradition request on charges stemming from a high-seas confrontation between a Sea Shepherd ship and a Costa Rican vessel over alleged shark finning in 2002.
“With Costa Rica, I had the evidence on film and with two dozen witnesses I was confident that I could win the case against the allegations of the shark finners. My only concern was that Costa Rica would then hand me over to Japan. For with Japan, there is the absolute certainty that once in Japanese custody, I will never be released,” Watson posted.
“That certainty meant that there could only be one option: I made the decision to depart Germany immediately,” he added.
On July 25, Germany reissued an arrest warrant based on Costa Rica’s extradition request, following Watson’s disappearance. A German court had ordered the Sea Shepherd captain to check in with authorities twice daily after he was released on €250,000 ($303,500) bail.
“For me it is obvious that the German government conspired with Japan and Costa Rica to detain me so that I could be handed over to the Japanese,” the marine conservationist wrote.
Watson noted that he and his crew had battled Japanese whalers for eight campaigns in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, costing Japanese fleets millions of dollars. He also announced plans for a ninth effort, beginning in December.
“This is not about justice; it is about revenge,” he said, referring to the Japanese and Costa Rican court cases. “I can serve my clients better at sea than in a Japanese prison cell and I intend to do just that.”