Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd and longtime crusader against Japan's whaling industry, may surface in the next week after he has explored options for the safest haven from extradition charges he believes will lead to imprisonment in Japan.
This view of Watson's status was suggested to the Peace and Justice Resource Center by Sea Shepherd captain Lockhart "Locky" MacLean last night in a discussion in Vancouver Harbor.
Watson, 61, skipped bail and went missing July 19 in Frankfurt, and is the target of an Interpol global alert. He was arrested in Frankfurt in May, and was out on bail pending a German decision on an extradition request from Costa Rica, where Watson faces decade-old charges from a Sea Shepherd disruption of illegal shark finning activity. Watson and Sea Shepherd suspected that Japan was behind the decade-old Costa Rican request. As evidence, he says German insiders alerted him on July 22 that Germany authorities were about to sign off on an extradition request by Japan.
Under customary extradition law, an individual can be sent only to the requesting country (Costa Rica), and not transferred to a third country (Japan). That would explain Japan's negotiations with Germany, which would bypass the potential trial in Costa Rica.
Watson believed he could win the case in Costa Rica, but never in Japan where he is virtually demonized as a foe of the whaling fleet. The International Whaling Commission bans commercial whaling, but Japan exploits a "scientific research" exemption to continue its practices.
From hiding, Watson vows that Sea Shepherd will launch its ninth annual campaign this December to protect whales from Japanese harpoons in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Like the extradition battle faced by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Watson case pits the power of nation states against insurgent direct action networks and whistleblowers.
MacLean, captain of the Steve Irwin, is circulating a petition to German officials. "Germany has entertained a politically-motivated request from Costa Rica,” he says.
The petition to pardon Paul Watson is here.