Reports are surfacing that Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been arrested at a Frankfurt airport on a warrant from Costa Rica.
Watson, who was en route to France, was apprehended at a Frankfurt airport, said Sea Shepherd Deutschland on its Facebook page today:
Paul Watson arrested at Frankfurt airport. An arrest warrant from Costa Rica due to risk of vessel traffic by 2005 [...] He is [to be] brought before the Haftrichter [magistrate] probably tomorrow.
Watson was involved in an April 2002 event that occurred after the Costa Rican Government invited Sea Shepherd to assist in patrolling for shark poachers around Cocos Island.
On April 22 2002, Watson's ship, the Ocean Warrior, was en route to Cocos Island when it came across the vessel Varadero I allegedly poaching sharks. Guatemalan authorities asked Sea Shepherd to bring the boat into port for arrest, and a daylong chase between the two boats ensued. The ships eventually collided, and the Varadero I agreed to be escorted into Guatemala.
The authorities in Costa Rica later filed a charge of attempted murder against Watson and Canadian photographer and movie director, Rob Stewart. The events were captured on film in the award-winning 2007 Canadian documentary Sharkwater. Watson and Stewart fled to international waters to escape arrest by the Costa Rican coastguard but not before they had filmed millions of shark fins drying on rooftops.
At the time, Stewart said:
How is it these “underground” Taiwanese fishing operations, which used private docks, were routinely ignored by Costa Rican authorities? It turns out Taiwan invests millions of dollars every year in Costa Rica – building bridges, highways, and buildings. Our arrests started to make sense. I realised our situation was tenuous.Sea Shepherd South Africa also confirmed the news of Watson's arrest on its Facebook page:
Paul Watson got arrested this noon at Frankfurt airport on his way to France on a warrant from Costa Rica. They accuse him to [be in] violation in ship traffic while the doku Sharkwater. He's ok but the judge has to decide tomorrow if he will be deported to Costa Rica. Attorney is enroute and a volunteer will assist him in any case of need.
Sea Shepherd has just released this press statement on the arrest of Watson:
Captain Paul Watson was arrested yesterday in Germany for extradition to Costa Rica. The German police have said that the warrant for Captain Watson’s arrest is in response to an alleged violation of ships traffic in Costa Rica, which occurred during the filming of Sharkwater in 2002.
While in jail, Captain Watson is being assisted by the European Parliament Vice President Daniel Cohn Bendit and the European deputy Jose Bove. Our hope is that these two honorable gentlemen can set Captain Watson free before this nonsense goes any further. The European Sea Shepherds have also mobilized to support Captain Watson.
Meanwhile, supporters for Watson have already rallied the troops and have launched an online petition. The Facebook Page Free Paul Watson was also just recently created.