By Captain Paul Watson
It is nice to be wanted I suppose, and now it is not just Costa Rica that wants to bring me to their country for the “crime” of saving sharks. On Friday, Japan officially demanded my arrest for the “crime” of saving whales.
Apparently the ‘red’ notice has been sent to 190 nations to be on the lookout for me. This is amazing. I have never injured a single person. I have not damaged any property. I have not committed an act of terrorism. I have not stolen any money or sexually assaulted any person.
Japan is desperately upset because we have prevented them from killing whales. As for Costa Rica, well Costa Rica could not care less about our shark conservation efforts they are simply acting as a subservient instrument for Japan. Actually, considering the money Costa Rica received from Japan, I think the better term would be to say Costa Rica is acting whorishly with respect to this situation.
Japan is getting increasingly desperate. In addition to enlisting Costa Rica to place me on Interpol’s ‘red’ list for bogus charges stemming from our interventions against illegal shark finning operations way back in 2002, they have now officially submitted a ‘red’ list demand against me based on the incidents in 2010 in the Southern Ocean.
In 2010, the Japanese vessel Shonan Maru 2 deliberately rammed and destroyed the 1.5 million dollar vessel the Ady Gil. One crewmember was injured and six others nearly killed. Although the New Zealand Maritime Safety Authority ruled that the Japanese ship was 50% responsible for the destruction of the ship, they refused to cooperate with the investigation, no one was charged, and Japan did not pay any damages.
In response to the ramming of the Ady Gil, the captain of the Ady Gil boarded the Shonan Maru 2 to demand that the Japanese captain take responsibility for the destruction of his vessel.
This was all documented on the Animal Planet show Whale Wars. Included in the documentation was my advice to the captain to not board the Shonan Maru 2, but this person stated that he felt he had to board the vessel and that he would take complete responsibility for the boarding. Using his own Jet Ski and his own crew to take him to the Shonan Maru 2, he boarded the vessel. He was detained, taken back to Japan, and charged with trespassing and other charges ranging from interference with commerce to assault and destruction of property.
This person never acted under my orders at any time during the 2010 campaign. The Ady Gil was not owned by Sea Shepherd. It was owned by Ady Gil who appointed his own captain who answered to Ady Gil alone.
It was my mistake to allow him to work with us, but at the time we had a need for a fast scout vessel. Unfortunately the captain of the Ady Gil had other ideas and decided to challenge the illegal Japanese whalers head on and as a consequence lost his boat. He was then kept in jail for nearly four months before being released on a suspended sentence and returning to New Zealand.
The reason he was released with a suspended sentence was that he made a plea bargain deal, and that deal was to sign a statement accusing me of ordering him to board the Shonan Maru 2. The Japanese government never wanted him, they wanted me and I was delivered to them with bogus testimony. The captain of the Ady Gil knew full well that I advised him not to board the Shonan Maru 2. All the crew present heard him say that he wanted to do so and would take total responsibility for his actions even if it meant prison time.
The charges against me by Japan and the reason they have issued the ‘red’ notice is based 100% on the accusations given to the Japanese by the captain of the Ady Gil. His testimony is the only evidence against me. That was the deal made between him and the Japanese authorities and in return for his freedom he delivered me to them.
Initially, in 2010, Interpol denied the request for a ‘red’ notice by Japan. Also in January 2012 Interpol dismissed the initial request by Costa Rica. In May when I was detained by Germany at the request of Costa Rica without the ‘red’ notice, I was told that Germany did not need to consider the Interpol dismissal of the request.
Since leaving Germany the day before I was again to be detained by the German police and handed over either to Japan, or to Costa Rica and then Japan, Costa Rica and Japan both requested that I be placed on the ‘red’ list once again. This time, although the evidence had not changed, the request was granted.
What this means is that I am not actually a fugitive at the moment. The ‘red’ notice means that when I enter a country, the fact that I have done so is sent onto Japan and Costa Rica and they can then request a provisional arrest warrant after which the nation where I have entered can detain me and then extradite me to either Japan or Costa Rica. The nation detaining me need not even look at the evidence or lack of evidence. They need only turn me over to the mercy of the foreign authorities requesting my arrest.
As for Germany, it is not illegal to skip bail. I am wanted in Germany only under the provisional arrest warrant from Costa Rica and Japan, but once I left Germany the warrant for my arrest was no longer valid.
There is no question that this has all been brought about by our successful interventions against illegal whaling activities by Japan in the Southern Ocean, where we have cost the Japanese whalers tens of millions of dollars and severely humiliated them.
Below is an interview that I did with one of the Sea Shepherd crew based on questions received from the media and the public.
Question: If you believe that you have done nothing wrong and the evidence will exonerate you, then why not allow Costa Rica and/or Japan to take you to court?
Captain Paul Watson: The answer to that is simple. We don’t have the time. We have a major campaign in the planning scheduled for December and the objective of that campaign is to stop the Japanese whaling fleet from killing whales. That must be my priority. If I allow myself to be taken to either Costa Rica or Japan, I will be tied up for months, perhaps for years and with respect to Japan, possibly forever. I believe that saving the lives of a thousand whales must take priority over playing courtroom games with Japan and Costa Rica. You don’t win a battle by playing by the rules of the opposition.
Question: Some of your critics are saying you are afraid to face the charges.
Captain Paul Watson: My critics say lots of things that have no relevance to me. Refusing to play their game, on their terms, is not being afraid, it is being practical. When we tried to have the Japanese captain questioned for the destruction of the Ady Gil, he refused to cooperate and yet the Japanese expect me to cooperate with them. Let me see, they destroyed a 1.5 million dollar vessel, actually injured an Animal Planet cameraman and almost killed everyone onboard, they refuse to cooperate and the case is closed. I on the other hand have not injured anyone nor have I destroyed one of their ships and when I refuse to cooperate they say I am a coward. Really it is all quite silly. In time, I may have to face these bogus charges either voluntarily or if they take me prisoner and when forced to present a defense for myself, I will do so. Quite frankly, right now my priority is organizing and leading a defense for the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Question: Are you embittered with Germany for detaining you in May and then deciding to extradite you?
Captain Paul Watson: Not with the German people. They were and are generally very supportive. The German government like most governments does not care about individual liberty or even justice. Their concern is to keep their trading partners happy and if Japan or Costa Rica wants me, the German government was quite happy to give them what they wanted. They did not even bother to examine the facts of the case. They simply waited for the extradition papers to arrive. Their decision was already made.
Question: The Costa Rican Foreign Minister has said that there is no evidence that the Costa Rican fishing vessel you stopped in Guatemalan waters was finning sharks.
Captain Paul Watson: Rob Stewart made the documentary film Sharkwater and the shark finning footage in that film was taken over a two-hour period from the deck of the Sea Shepherd vessel Ocean Warrior of the Varadero I. It is all on film. Additionally, the Varadero I was arrested in 2001, the year before the incident with Sea Shepherd, in the Galapagos for illegally fishing and finning sharks. The vessel was fined the maximum penalty before being released. So what we have is a vessel previously convicted of shark finning and documented on film in the process of shark finning, yet the foreign minister makes a ridiculous statement that there is no evidence that the vessel was shark finning.
Question: Why were you charged ten years after the fact over the Varadero I incident?
Captain Paul Watson: Actually I was charged in May 2001 and we went to court in Puntarenas, Costa Rica that month and presented witness statements and showed film documentation of the incident. The charges were dismissed and I was given clearance to leave Costa Rica, which I did, and I did not hear anything further about this incident until May 2012 when I was detained by a Costa Rican request to Germany for my arrest. Costa Rica never contacted me in the entire 10 years to say that they were reinstating charges.
Question: Costa Rica is considered a good environmentally aware nation. Why would they do that?
Captain Paul Watson: They do have the appearance of being a concerned nation with regard to the environment but in practice they have a very bad record. Costa Rica is one of the worst nations in Central America when it comes to illegal fishing and shark finning and they are the conduit for selling Nicaraguan shark fins to China. Cocos Island National Park has seen a serious decline in diversity over the last two decades and the illegal fishing activities are simply not dealt with. Cocos Island rangers are not given the boats or equipment they need and very little is done in Costa Rican coastal waters to protect marine species and habitat. Costa Rica has come after me simply because they made a deal with Japan to do so.
Question: What are you doing about these charges?
Captain Paul Watson: We have lawyers working on this in Germany, France, Costa Rica, the U.S.A. and Japan. In the meantime, this is not my priority. My priority is returning to my ships to once again oppose illegal Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean. To involve myself in a legal defense in court at this moment would prevent me from being where I need to be and where Japan does not want me to be and that is confronting their illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean beginning in December.
The charges are ridiculous. The Japanese charges are based solely on the bogus accusations of a man trying to save his own ass. The Costa Rican charges were tossed out a decade ago because there was no case. Everything we do is documented for film and television.
Question: Is it a hardship keeping your location secret and not having your passport?
Captain Paul Watson: I would not say it is a hardship. It is inconvenient but I’m not doing what I am doing because it is easy. I am doing what I am doing because it is necessary. I have spent my entire life on the sea and in confrontations with illegal activities diminishing diversity in our oceans. We have powerful wealthy enemies so I am not surprised at the formidable opposition against us. After filing for an appeal against the British Court ruling siding with us in the preliminary injunction for our cutting of their illegal tuna nets, a lawyer for the Maltese company Fish and Fish said, “we will get him, it is simply a matter of throwing more money at him in doing so.” Maybe they will get me but I can’t worry about that for if I worried about things like that I may as well have not tried to save anything in our oceans at all.
In what environment do we do our best? In a comfortable environment where everything is safe and convenient, great things are not accomplished. It is from within an environment of controversy, uncertainty, and challenge that great things can be accomplished.
Question: In social network forums it seems like half the comments and blogs support you and the other half condemn you. What do you think of these postings, comments, and blogs?
Captain Paul Watson: I don’t think about them much because I very rarely even see or read them. I expect vicious character attacks. After all the world would not be in the situation it is in now if not for the kind of anti-nature, anti-activist mentality of pretty much half the population. It seems that half the population of society is awake and the other half believes in angels, magic underwear, and Wal-mart. In fact I would be very disappointed if I did not receive vicious insults, death threats, and ignorant postings. It makes me realize that if I am pissing off so many people in a world where so many are destroying nature then I must be doing something right. At the same time, I am receiving the support and endorsement of millions of people worldwide.
Question: Will you be leading the next Sea Shepherd campaign to the Southern Ocean to defend the whales from the Japanese whalers?
Captain Paul Watson: I intend to lead Operation Zero Tolerance and I am working my way towards doing so but if I cannot, the campaign will go ahead under the direction of my captains, officers and crew and we intend to cost them their illegal profits once again.
Question: Some people think that you are a fugitive. Has that affected your support base?
Captain Paul Watson: I have not seen any evidence that it has affected us negatively. If anything, our support has grown. I am not a fugitive from justice and it is in fact not illegal for anyone to assist me because all that has been posted is a ‘red’ notice through Interpol. There have been no provisional arrest warrants issued by either Japan or Costa Rica outside of Japan and Costa Rica. Besides, everyone I have ever admired from Henry David Thoreau to Gandhi to Nelson Mandela has seen the inside of a jail cell. In 1972, Nelson Mandela was in prison in South Africa and considered a terrorist. Today he is one of the most respected and beloved leaders in the world.
Question: Are you afraid of the consequences should you be captured?
Captain Paul Watson: All of my life I have been afraid of only one thing and that is of doing nothing. I have never been able to fathom the idea of accepting the way things are. We humans are killing our oceans, we are diminishing bio-diversity, we are over heating the planet, we are pouring poisons into the sea and air. I cannot accept that meekly and I know with absolute certainty that if we kill the oceans, we kill ourselves. If the oceans die, we die and the oceans are dying in our time. My greatest fear is that people simply accept that fact.
Question: Has the media delivered the facts about this situation accurately?
Captain Paul Watson: The responsible media has like Der Spiegel in Germany, the Globe and Mail in Canada, the Guardian in Britain, etc, but overall the media in general cannot be expected to report factually on much anymore. This last week, one of the biggest stories is the controversy over topless pictures of Kate Middleton. Not a single question has been asked to the U.S. Presidential candidates on climate change, the dying oceans, species extinction or any other ecological issue. It is like if your house was burning and the firemen were still in the station discussing baseball scores and the media was reporting that the woman in the house next to you was sun bathing in the nude.
Question: Where are you now?
Captain Paul Watson: I am at this moment a free man on the planet Earth, the place where I have always been and will forever be.