Paul Watson: out of jail, but still in trouble

The Sea Shepherd founder was released on bail fin Germany this week, but still faces extradition to Costa Rica


Markus Schreibe/AP Photo

Paul Watson, the Canadian-born founder the Sea Shepherd Society whom we featured in a recent Maclean’s article, was released on bail from a German jail earlier this week. But the environmental activist still faces extradition to Costa Rica to answer decade old charges that he and his crew endangered a ship during a confrontation with fishermen who were killing sharks for their fins. On Wednesday, he spoke to Maclean’s Jonathon Gatehouse from Frankfurt.

Q: In the course of your career you’ve found yourself in jail a number of times. What were the German accommodations like?

A: Not as good as a Dutch jail. Mostly it was pretty boring, but I was only in there for a week. And during that time, we were able to organize an international response, which has been very positive. Today, I just came back from a demonstration in Berlin where we had 400 people. And we’ve also had demonstrations in Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Australia, Seattle, New York—worldwide really—all directed at the Germans. So they’re certainly getting the message. And I’m talking with the Costa Ricans right now and they’re starting to realize that this is getting a little ridiculous; I mean I didn’t injure anybody. I didn’t damage any property. Basically, I interfered with an illegal operation and they’re calling for extradition on it 10 years later, which seems a little bizarre.

Q: You’ve suggested that these charges are politically motivated. How so?

A: Actually, I never made that accusation; it was Interpol that dismissed them as politically motivated. They were dismissed from the red list. And Germany ignored that.

Q: You’ve said that at the time of the confrontation you were operating under the authority of the Guatemalan government?

A: Yes, when we found the Costa Rican vessel, we had them under observation for a couple of hours while we waited for a response from the Guatemalan ministry of the environment. And they said, ‘ok, escort them in.’ And that’s what we did and it was all in Guatemalan waters.

Q: The Costa Rican authorities investigated the allegations at the time, and you cooperated with them. Did they give you a sense that it was all over?

A: Yeah, we got to Costa Rica a couple of days later—we were actually there to sign an agreement to help protect Cocos Island [an offshore marine reserve]. And when we got there we were boarded by a judge and a prosecutor and police. These fisherman had said that we threatened to kill them, which we hadn’t. Everything is on film. We were making the movie Sharkwater. So we went into the courtroom and showed our evidence and film and they spoke to our witnesses and everything was dismissed. So we were getting ready to go to Cocos Island and two days later they boarded us again, because they had apparently appointed another judge and another prosecutor who had charged us all over again. So we went back into the courtroom and they dismissed it again. And then we were out on Cocos Island and I got a call from my ship’s agent telling me they were going to arrest me again. And that there was a law in Costa Rica where they could hold me for a year while they investigated the allegation. And I decided I wasn’t playing that game, so we left for Panama.

Q: You’ve also said that you fear for your safety if you are extradited back to Costa Rica. Why is that?

A: Well, it’s the shark fin mafia. Their leader is this half-Taiwanese, half-Costa Rican guy, and we’ve busted about 65 poaching vessels, mostly in the Galapagos Islands, and a lot of them belong to him. He put out a $25,000 hit on me. And he even put hits out on the sniffer dogs that we had supplied to the federal police—$3,000 or $4,000 each. We’re costing them millions of dollars.

Q: And you see his hand at work in the resurrection of these charges?

A: I don’t know whose hand is at work here. It’s hard to say. But I do find it extremely coincidental that they initiated these charges in Oct. 2011. Japan took us to court in the US on a civil suit [over disrupting their whaling activities], which they lost, that month. And in October 2011, [Japanese whalers] were allocated $30 million from the Tsunami relief fund to basically oppose us. It’s paying for litigation and public relations and security on the high seas against us.

Q: Japan did have you placed on the Interpol watch list, correct?

A: Yeah, on the Interpol blue list, but it doesn’t mean anything.

Q: But if it’s the Japanese that want to get you, why would they go to the trouble of arranging all this through a third party?

A: Because they don’t have evidence to get me on anything. We haven’t broken any laws, really. They only thing they have is all this false information that was provided to them by Pete Bethune, who was the captain on the [sunken Sea Shepherd boat] Ady Gil. He basically tried to extort me and made all these allegations and I threw him out of the organization. I think they’re trying to build a case of obstructing business, but they obviously don’t have anything since they haven’t laid a charge.

Q: My understanding is that the Germans can hold you for 90 days while they process the extradition request. What’s your next step?

A: Right now we’ve got a legal team in Costa Rica, and a legal team here in Germany—one of the best extradition lawyers in the country. And we’re also speaking with the Costa Rican government. We want to work with Costa Rica, not against them. And we would like to resume our cooperation with the Cocos Island rangers.

Q: I see that Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla is actually in Germany at the moment. Have you been able to speak with her, or the people around her?

A: Well, she passed by our demonstration in Berlin today. But I’ll be speaking to representatives of the Costa Rican government in Stuttgart tomorrow.

Q: President Chinchilla has given assurances that you’ll face a fair trial…

A: Well, that’s probably right. But I’m not concerned about the legal system, I’m concerned about the jail system. When you get into a system where you can have contact with people who put a price on your head, that’s very worrying.

Q: Is your absence going to have any effect on Sea Shepherd?

A: No, our campaigns are on schedule. If I’m not available for the [anti-whaling efforts] in Antarctica, for example, we have four other captains who can take on that. And we’ve got a campaign this summer in the South Pacific to protect sharks and that’s on schedule. It’s inconvenient, but the show goes on.

Q: Speaking of that, what does this mean for the TV show?

A: Oh, we don’t start filming until next December. The new series of Whale Wars premiers next week, but it’s all in the can.

Q: I guess if you look on the sunny side, your incarceration is good publicity.

A: Yeah, I’m sure it’s good for publicity. I always try to take the unexpected things and make them work for me. And if fact this is working very well for us. We’re getting more exposure on the issue of shark finning than ever before. This is more important than just me. The issue is what we’re trying to focus on. So this is playing very well.


Paul Watson: out of jail, but still in trouble

  1. WDCS is saddened to hear that the first drive hunt, or ‘grind’ of the summer hunting season has taken place  in Trongisvágur, Faroe Islands, where 63 pilot whales were killed on Wednesday, May 16th. Hahahaha love this news..
    And you Paul Fatson instead of spending money for eco terrorism donate those millions of dollars to the children of Africa so you can be real hero not a fake and a scam artist..
    Get a life take a real job..

    • This comment was deleted.

      • it is a cute trick the japs play,take tsunami money the west donates and
        finance illegal whaliing instead of rebuilding storm damage.

    • The paid Japanese poster, or should I say imposter, loves the news that 63 pilot whales were brutally slaughtered. What does that tell you about the ICR that pays his salary? Not even the Faroese celebrate the slaughter, but the imposter celebrates. Lenmeister is another imposter, if you weren’t so dramatic you might be more believable by the eternally gullible.

    • That’s why we keep some Africans starving, so that rich people can make heroes of them selves.

  2. Paul Watson is a hero! He has more supporters than detractors. The people who butcher those helpless whales in the Faroe Islands are nothing but heartless cretins. The Japanse whale butchers are lying goons! No one believes their pathetic bull$hip about conducting scientific research. What they’re doing is slaughtering creatues that have more intelligence than they do for M O N E Y! Greedy bastards! The world is watching and most people with functioning consciences and reasoning brains DON’T like what we see! We will NEVER give up defending the voiceless!

    • Right ! Tout a fait d’accord. Couldn’t agree more with you !

    • 30 year old radio cast? only showing what other organizations do.
      I dont give a shit if he makes a buck from the funds as long as the job gets done and gets done well.
      Saving the whales and sharks is all that matters.

      • Save the animals , jail Watson.

  3. Somehow it seems to be going unnoticed that there are currently two Japanese whaling vessels operating in the North Pacific with the intention of harvesting close to 200 whales; including 10 Sperm whale.

  4. If you dont know what Watson is really all about , watch this video.. nothing has changed with the old fat criminal who has lived his life on other people’s money.
    Con man liar thief criminal. He is a thug. …..”.the harp seal has tears in its eyes its easy to make money on the seal hunts, the seal is very easy to exploit as an image.. they are not endangered .. . ”
    Mr Watson is a fraud, he continues to lie lie lie… he is not a conservationist he is a crim who lies to childen and pensioners and takes their money.A great bloke!

    • He is a conservationist.
      You’re a random nobody saying random words without knowing what these words means.

      • Your a random idiot who needs to do some thorough research on his god. You only know of the old liar since watching the comedic contrived show known as Whale Wars- Whores.Why are you people so dumb. Why support a known liar when you know nothing of his behaviour other than the trash he spouts at any given opportunity. He is a fraud. He is a liar. He cons people. He has conned you. The whales are better off without his interference making things worse.I love animals do you? Watson is only in the ‘conservation’ game because its emotive. He can con people into giving him huge donations for his own personal use and he does. Wake up you conned people, he is a cultist and you have fallen into the cult trap.Watson deserves to be punished for his crimes against humanity including attempted murder, fraud, lies, pretense, sinking ships, stalking, risking human life, risking polluting the southern ocean, harrassment on a grand scale and theft.

        • His god??? What are you talking about. More random words again.

          Here is a quote from Watson when someone asked him a question.

          You’re not only the founder of Sea Shepherd, speaking out for the environment and against corporations, government and media, sinking whaling ships, accused of being a pirate, and a vegan. You’ve also blamed religion for a lot of the problems the planet is facing – do you think that might stop your message getting through to some people, or be too much for them?A:“Well, you know, I’m not interested in being politically correct and never have been but I’ve always been interested in being ecologically correct and speaking to the truth of these issues. We live in a world which has been co-opted by anthropocentric philosophies which tend to make everyone think that humans are the centre of the universe. It’s like we’re at that spot now where Galileo and Copernicus were when they said that the Earth is the centre of the universe. We still live with that idea – that we are the centre of the ecosystem we live in – when in fact we are just a part of it, and not even the most important part when you get right down to it. It’s the insects and bacteria that run the world, not mammals, but we have to learn to live in harmony with these other species. We have to learn to live within the confines of the laws of ecology – the Law of Diversity of Species, the Law of Interdependence, the Law of Finite Resources. These are the things I’m trying to address. All human religions – what I call ‘the Monkey-God religions’ – they all worship some giant primate in the sky that tells us that we have to really ignore the rest of the natural world, not even care about it in many cases. I think that the beginning of religion was really the beginning of our disrespect for the natural world which we live in.”————I don’t think he believe in any god.
          He is right that religion is destructive, Christianity example is soo anthropocentric and deep Christian treat animals and environment like garbage. They are a slave to an idea made up by NORMAL HUMAN BEINGS thousands of years ago.They can’t think for themselves for a minute. Jesus was just a normal man like Jim Jones, Shoko Asahara, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Marshall Applewhite. They all had no special powers.

          He didn’t conned me. I haven’t donated to them yet.
          I studied them and they are fighting against poachers, and other losers killing whales for commercial purpose and lying they kill for scientific purposes.

          Every poachers should be shot dead or used for drugs and chemical testing. They are all waste of space. Some countries even shoot poachers dead. I strongly agree with that.
          I evaluate things on my OWN without anyone asking to me about them.
          I see sea shepherd as a GOOD organization.

          You’re very apathy and lack in emotions.
          What a horrible human being you are.

          You claim false crap without evidence.
          usually people who lies does it themselves but blames others.
          Example trophy hunters who claims to be conservationist blows 140 millions to defend hunting instead of donating that money to make the world a better place. These hicks were stupid enough to admit it on their dumb website. They are also criticized to poach endangered species in Africa.

          He doesn’t face crimes against humanity.
          Osama Bin Laden, Muammar, Saddam Hussein faced crimes against humanity and when they get caught. DEAD we KILL THEM.
          That is why they are all dead.

          Nothing wrong with killing or risking poachers life.
          They all deserve to die or WE SHOULD be used them for drugs and or chemical testing just like we should do to convicted rapists and mass murderers.

          • blah blah blah .. not interested in more of the same crap… he’s not a vegan on a vego either!! believe it.

          • Rather is a meat eater, vegetarian, freegan or vegetarian.
            He does the right thing in fighting the evil.

            There is nothing wrong with eating meats as long the species is abundant.
            As long meat are legal, not from endangered nor protected species.

            Sharks in Costa Rica are protected.
            Also shark finning is wasteful they rip off their fin and throw the rest away.
            Maybe if someone rips off your spine and throws you and let you rot maybe you’ll understand.

            But all you do is saying random words just like a parrot. saying words without knowing what they are talking about.

          • RIGHT !!!

        • So much rage in you ! You poor thing.. Was it very tough back home when you were a child ?

          • I’m not raging and slandering wont bring you anywhere.
            Poaching is a severe crime, Many species are endangered because these of waste of flesh.
            I see poachers just as worst as rapists.
            People that should have their testicles hammered one by one and then using these people for drugs and or chemical testing..
            That is my opinion.

        • shut the fuck up and die you moron

  5. This comment was deleted.

    • Waste of life you are.

      You didn’t even read the news I bet.
      Nothing wrong with endangering the lives of poachers because they are scumbags they deserves to die the most painful way possible.

      Shark fining in Costa Rica is ILLEGAL.
      Because these countries has corruption the law enforcement against illegal poaching is poor.
      So Watson is doing the right thing.

      He is a warrior.
      The lives of ANY animals are infinitely more precious than poachers, even bugs because all poachers are scumbags and genocide piece of crap.
      I bet you’re one of the poacher and or supporter of these scumbags surplus.

        • I’m not fat unlikely most sportsmen are fat or frail.

      • U a terrorist too

        • You are the terrorist.
          And an inbred hick.

    • Well said. Julian Assagne I believe is innocent and should not be extradited, he’s not whining about it, Watson on the other hand is a cowardly gutless wonder ,he’s petrified of being extradited to face his crimes. “Arrest me or shut up” How ironic.

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  7. Watson and his crew like to play it “tough” when they attack Japanese ships ..throwing acid and etc on them …but when the shoe is on the other foot ….when the Japanese or whoever respond in kind…like all other left-wing, anarchists they whine and cry like the hippie bitches they are. One of these days someone is gonna put a beating or worse on them including that pencil-necked geek Hammersmidt …….
    Chicken shits…cant take what they pass out ….we all are rooting for Costa Rica to get their hands on him…..
    If not that…whats to stop the Japanese from bring along one of their warships and sinking them ?? Or just boarding them and beatin the heck out of them ? Surely they have the right to protect their citizens from attack as they see fit in international waters !

    • chuck piece of shit you are and probably never done anything worthy in your life other that wasting oxygen. go enjoy your piece of crap worthless life, you genetic diarrhea bag.

  8. Wieso einem Mann festhalten, der sich fuer ein ernstes Thema einsetzt- die Verhinderung der Toetung von Walen und Delfinen?! Ich appeliere an den Menschenverstand und bitte vor allem die DEUTSCHE Regierung sich nicht von der Korruption der anderen Laender einfangen zu lassen. Costa Rica hat mehrer Abkommen mit Japan und daher auch der laecherlich Haftbefhel, der ueber elf Jahre veraltet ist!!!

  9. Hi Paul

  10. i am behind you paul 100 %. you have been a hero to me for a long time now. i would love to come help you even. im not scared of them either. much love to you and your crews. some one needs to stand up for the wilde life and mother earth……keith

  11. Paul Watson is an incredible man living his life with the love and passion we all wish we could. He is no fraud or liar. He believes religion is crap and keeps us in the dark, which is TRUE. Religion was and is the best source for conformity this world has ever seen. It keeps everyone inline and believing the rights and wrongs told to them. it is because of the generations and generations of religion that people have been brainwashed into believing we are the all powerful, almighty, most important things in this universe. What a load of crap. You all can say whatever you’d like to about that man, it will not stop him or slow him down for a second. He knows, as well as the rest of us should, that without the balance of the worlds ecosystems we would not survive. If something is not done YESTERDAY about all of this, the way we are killing the planet and everything on it…. we wont be here tomorrow. so you go ahead, believe what you want, but in the end all you are doing is spreading hate, and all he is doing is making this a better world for every living thing on it!!!!!!!

  12. Paul Watson is nothing short then an ECO terrorist and a coward.

  13. Paul Watson is a media whore. That said, I deeply believe in some of the things he does, the scandinavians and far northern communities need to be left be by sea shepard. It’s not like you can plant corn in the tundra. These people waste nothing, and it’s a managed fishery. Is paul Watson gonna roll up in the bearing sea and say crab fishing is bad as managed as the US fisheries are? He’d get sunk. I commend him for fighting for endangered species, and pointless killing of whales (the Japanese have no need to kill whales at this point.) Shark finning is detestable as well, poachers deserve what they get. Managed fisheries on the other hand…. not cool messing with them, and a really good way to say…. end up in jail?! Or get a shell through your boat for flying basically a pirate flag. That would make for a news story wouldn’t it, a 1 ton shell going through the Irwin? They deserve what they got in the faroese and worse, it’s not just culture, it’s hard to live up there without whaling. You’re hungry, and there’s tons of meat swimming by? WTF would you do?

  14. your all skum if you think its ok to killing whales and sharks my moneys on watson

  15. Unbelievable. Keyboard cowboys talking tough against someone trying to
    save intelligent species. What do you have against earth?

    As for all the Watson supporters, keep it up. The planet needs your help.

  16. Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, That
    started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a mighty
    sailin’ man, the Skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day for a
    three hour tour. A three hour tour.

  17. he is a hero and anyone who dosent agree can take it up with me

  18. I’m not a fan of environutters, but this guy is OK by me. He’s hung his nutz out for years and put his life at risk to stop a practice that really, should not be happening. I wish him well. (That doesn’t mean I’m donating to his defense fund or anything, I’m just sayin’…)