TOKYO (AP) — Japan has ordered the deportation of Ric O'Barry, the star of the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove," about a Japanese village that hunts dolphins. But he has refused to leave, insisting he came as a tourist to look at dolphins.
O'Barry, the former dolphin trainer for the "Flipper" TV series, was detained upon arrival Monday at Tokyo's Narita international airport.
Japanese authorities decided Friday to turn down his appeal to enter the country, according to his son, Lincoln O'Barry. His son and lawyer say immigration officials accuse O'Barry of lying during questioning and of having ties to anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, both of which O'Barry denies.
Immigration officials said they cannot comment on individual cases.
O'Barry heads the Dolphin Project, which aims to protect dolphins worldwide. He regularly visits Taiji, the fishing village portrayed in "The Cove," which won the 2009 Academy Award for best documentary. In the film, dolphins get herded into a cove and speared to death, turning the waters red with blood.
"I'm incarcerated, on trumped up charges," Ric O'Barry said in an email from his son. "In a world where so much that is wild and free has already been lost to us, we must leave these beautiful dolphins free to swim as they will and must."
Ric O'Barry has refused the deportation order and was transported to another detention facility near Narita airport, his son said.
O'Barry's lawyer Takashi Takano, who visited him earlier Friday, said O'Barry was alone but in good spirits. The government was expected to issue a formal warrant and physically deport him, Takano said.
O'Barry has been questioned by Japanese immigration before, but this is the first time he has been detained and barred from entry.
The immigration officials questioning O'Barry are arguing they can't believe him because he has lied to them before, such as saying he wouldn't go to a Tokyo event called Japan Dolphins Day in August last year but ending up going, according to Takano.
Officials and fishermen in Taiji have defended the hunt as traditional, saying that eating dolphin meat is no different than eating beef or chicken.
Dolphin Project online: https://DolphinProject.net
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