6 August 2012, 15:13

Ecologist Paul Watson being “hunted down in revenge”

Ecologist Paul Watson being “hunted down in revenge”

Paul Watson, head of the radical ecological Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is rumoured to have found shelter in Ecuador after fleeing Germany on July 22, where he was to be handed over to Costa Rican authorities. Japan has also joined in the hunt for the fugitive captain.

Watson has also seen a $500,000 compensation lawsuit filed against him over a ruined vessel. Meanwhile, Ecuadorian environmentalists have demanded that Germany explain itself before the European Parliament.

Japan has requested Paul Watson’s extradition over his attack on a Japanese whaleboat in 2010. After Paul Watson failed to stop the poachers by dazing them with a special laser device, he rammed their ship, breaking the Ady Gil trimaran in two as a result of the daring maneuver.

Skipper and owner of the ruined ship Pete Bethune has sued the Sea Shepherd eco-team for $500,000 and witnessed against Paul Watson in court. Bethune later backed off, claiming it was insane to blame him for the mess Paul Watson had found himself in. He pointed out the captain has been fighting Japanese poachers in Antarctica for years and years, so they had enough time to accumulate accusations against him. Bethune said he was surprised that Watson wasn’t blaming him for the Costa Rica case or for any other problems.

Maria Vorontsova – the head of International Fund for Animal Welfare’s center in Moscow who took part in the July whaling mission – said Paul Watson, despite his good intentions, was a poor diplomat and tended to make life harder for himself.

“He is a persona non grata, barred from any talks with politicians. Instead, he engages in extremist, pirate-style missions, which are intrinsically illicit. He would come to a city where a whaling meeting is underway but he’s never let in to it. I’ve seen him many times rallying outside conference halls with his group. He’s usually dressed up in his captain uniform and a cap. He’s very impressive.”

Watson’s escape from house arrest probably seemed to be the only way out for the embattled eco-activist, who believes that Costa Rican authorities are seeking his execution. Yet his escape has put the captain in even more trouble. Watson fled Germany a day before it was to fulfil the Costa Rican request for extradition – a bold stunt probably helped by informants who facilitated his getaway.

The captain’s attorney Oliver Wallasch had little to say about the outlook of Watson’s case. All calls to Sea Shepherd offices in Canada and the United States are met with answering machines, while Watson’s crew are running a worldwide campaign to win over more supporters for their figurehead, whose future has never been more uncertain.

Sea Shepherd Australia chief Jeff Hansen has said they have received support from the Brazilian Senate, who named Paul Watson a hero. The whole world now knows that charges against him are political and groundless and have even found no support from Interpol. Jeff Hansen also said the organization was calling on its supporters and sponsors all over the world to force Germany and Costa Rica to drop the case and let Paul Watson be.

Meanwhile, Watson is bursting with optimism. “I can serve my clients better at sea than in a Japanese jail cell and I intend to do just that… This is not about justice; it is about revenge,” he wrote in his public letter, published by Sea Shepherd.

Although Watson’s whereabouts are unknown, he has reportedly established ties with Ecuadorian eco-activists, Dallas Blog says quoting the letter written by Mariana Almeida, executive president of RAINFOREST-Life Without Frontiers Foundation/OCEAN DEFENDER-Ecuador. “The case of Captain Watson would also be presented to the pertinent Human Rights commissions and organizations and shall be placed on the agenda of the European Parliament, the international agreements shall be respected and it is clear that Germany might need to explain to the European Parliament the reason to accept the extradition request from a Caribbean country without an extradition agreement,” Ms Almeida said. The Ecuadorian embassy in London is also hiding WikiLeak’s co-founder Julian Assange, who faces extradition to Sweden.

Paul Watson’s odyssey started in 2002, when Costa Rican authorities first gave him green light to fight shark finning poachers and then accused his crew of eco-activists of attacking a ship and issued an international arrest warrant. The main evidence in the case is a documentary called “Sharkwater”, filmed by Rob Stewart during that very mission.

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