Sea Shepherd group founder arrested in Germany

AP News
Posted: May 14, 2012 2:11 PM
Sea Shepherd group founder arrested in Germany

The founder of an environmental activist group known for its confrontations with whalers and fishermen has been arrested in Germany for extradition to Costa Rica, where he is wanted for allegedly endangering a fishing boat in 2002, German prosecutors said Monday.

Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was arrested Sunday at Frankfurt Airport on an arrest warrant issued by Costa Rica, a spokesman for the local prosecutors' office said.

"He is alleged to have used a ship to intimidate another vessel and put its crew at risk in 2002," said the spokesman, Guenter Wittig.

Sea Shepherd said Watson was filming a documentary at the time of the alleged incident, which took place in Guatemalan waters. The U.S.-based group said it encountered an illegal shark finning operation run by a Costa Rican ship, the Varadero, and told the crew to stop and head to port to be prosecuted. The crew accused Sea Shepherd of trying to kill them by ramming their ship.

It isn't the first time the Canadian-born 61-year-old has clashed with authorities.

Watson was also a founding member of Greenpeace, but left the group in 1977 to set up the more action-oriented Sea Shepherd. The group has waged aggressive campaigns to protect whales, dolphins and other marine animals, prompting Japanese officials to labels its member terrorists and seek Watson's arrest for allegedly masterminding Sea Shepherd's violent protests.

Earlier this year Interpol refused to circulate an international wanted persons alert, known as a `red notice,' for Watson. Interpol said its lawyers were "not satisfied that the request was in compliance" with its rules.

Watson is currently in temporary custody and a judge will decide later whether to formally place him in detention pending extradition, said Wittig.

A message posted from his Twitter account late Monday read: "Might have to stay one more night until we clear this up..."