San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Paul Watson

Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson back on Interpol website as Costa Rica fugitive

He was there, then he wasn’t, now he is again.

The controversial conservationist and Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson, 63,  is back on Interpol Costa Rica’s Red Notice website, which states that he is a fugitive wanted for “prosecution” and to “serve a sentence.”

Costa Rica continues to pursue Watson’s arrest on charges of attempted shipwrecking over a now well-known incident off the coast of Guatemala in 2002. But he had disappeared from Interpol’s website as a wanted fugitive in Costa Rica, although he also is red-listed by Japan over an incident involving Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean, the subject of his TV show on Animal Planet, “Whale Wars.”

Back in October, Watson said the Interpol Red Notice ordered by Costa Rica against him had been dropped. At the time, Watson had just returned to the United States after spending 15 months at sea to avoid arrest.

But Costa Rica quickly responded to his claim by issuing an extradition request to U.S. authorities, who did not act on that request.

“Finding the accused [Watson] in the United States, we request his immediate capture, and once that has been executed the procedure for his extradition will begin,” First Circuit Judge Jorge Cordero stated in November. That extradition never happened.

Costa Rica claims Watson, a Canadian citizen, violated Article 251 of the country’s Penal Code, which sanctions the endangerment of a ship and its crew. If found guilty, he could face up to 15 years in prison. Watson was arrested in May 2012 in Frankfurt, Germany, where he spent a month in jail. He was released to house arrest, but fled Germany by land and spent the next 15 months at sea.

Both Watson and his attorney in Costa Rica, Federico Morales, said their attempts to have the Costa Rica case thrown out due to constitutionality concerns and the possible expiration of the statute of limitations on the charges have been met with a brick wall at the judicial branch.

“I’m trying to figure out what the status is [in my case] now that there’s a new government. I don’t know if they still want me. This whole thing has become very, very complicated,” Watson told The Tico Times in a recent telephone interview.

“Every time my lawyer in Costa Rica tries to ask, they say, ‘Well, have him come here and we’ll discuss it.’ They won’t even talk about statute of limitations or anything. They just want me there, and I think they want me there for a purpose. It’s got nothing to do with putting me on trial. We’ve been trying [to contact the new administration of President Luis Guillermo Solís], but we haven’t managed to contact them,” he added.

Sea Shepherd, which had planned on signing a joint patrol agreement for Costa Rica’s Cocos Island in 2002 before the plan was scrapped because of the legal case, now has a toehold in Central America. In January, the conservation group’s 35-meter interceptor vessel the Brigitte Bardot teamed up with the Guatemalan Navy to patrol for marlin poachers in the Pacific. According to Watson, “the Guatemalans said that what we were doing in Guatemala at their request was perfectly legal, and so if it went to trial in Costa Rica, that would certainly be evidence.”

The recent Guatemalan patrols helped stop four poaching operations, and several suspects were arrested, Watson said. “It was very successful, and we have a good relationship with Guatemala,” he added.

But what Watson really wants to do is send his fleet’s fifth ship, the Jairo Mora Sandoval – named after the slain Costa Rican sea turtle conservationist – to Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast to patrol against turtle poachers. So far, there has been no indication that the Solís administration is willing to entertain that offer.

Watson also told The Tico Times he felt vindicated by a March ruling by the International Court of Justice at The Hague ordering Japan to stop its Antarctica whaling missions, which the court said are “commercial” hunts, not research-based, and therefore illegal. Since 1986, Japanese whalers have used a legal loophole to skirt an international whaling ban that allowed them to continue slaughtering the mammals, ostensibly to gather scientific data. But it is no secret that the whale meat from those hunts ends up on dinner tables, and little – if any – research is conducted.

“What it means to us is that for 12 years they’ve been calling us outlaws and pirates, and now the shoe’s on the other foot,” he said. “They’re the outlaws.”


Contact David Boddiger at dboddiger@ticotimes.net54

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Gerry Brown

How do we contact Costa Rica’s President to stop the extradition of Captain Paul Watson?

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Marcus Graham

Using a water hose on a boat poaching and killing sea life illegally is not endangering human life. I smell Japanese money changing hands. Disgraceful

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Monica Backman

I find appaling that the Costa Rican government is looking to prosecute Captain Watson. I’ve been to Costa Rica with my family many times and we love the country, and in my opinion this goes AGAINST everything Costa Rica portrays itself to be which is an enviromentally friendly country! And NOW the government wants to arrest one of the biggest enviromental warriors in the world? What a joke! Maybe they should concentrate in fixing their internal CORRUPTION problems and leaving people who are trying to make the world BETTER ALONE!!!

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Watson should have been transporting cocaine or poaching shark fins, then the CR judiciary would let him go for a little grease in their bank account.

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Ronald Salazar

this news opposed to what Costa Rica stands: nature , eco-friendly country.

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I think you will see more USA retreat from CR. Arrogant government corruption won’t continually be tolerated. Solis is going to have his hands full, and it’s going to be a very difficult clean up. And I think many are just waiting and watching to see what, if anything, he will do. It most likely will get pretty ugly, before it gets better. People like Albert Rodriguez Baldi are calling out everyone, at every institution. And rightfully so. The media has been absolutely complacent. Sadly, I feel like this is deja vu all over again from the USA crash and burn. Poor corrupt self-serving leadership is to blame. International allies have been austracized. Domestic corruption is becoming a finger pointing game. And there is a lot of blame to go around.

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Albert is good person but PLN are putting thing in place to stop new Goverment by any mean. Now is the time throw these PLN scum that stole everything out of the country. Sorry to say this but enough is enough they have to go maybe US can take these a-holes.

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I agree. Alberto is a very good man. Unfortunately it will take more good people to take down corruption, as it is institutionalized in many regions, from decades of PLN leadership. Take down one and they will fall like dominos, pointing the finger at others who have done shady things. A good place to start, would be with Victor Chavez Chavarria- OIJ Jefe de Santa Cruz, Guanacaste. The USA will be watching closely and willing to offer help, but your country is a sovereign state, and this needs to happen from within. A big part of the problem is poder judicial and a corrupt institution of lawyers. Colegio de Abogados must firmly act to help end this corrupt relationship between lawyers, prosecutors and judges. Most politicians are lawyers by trade as well. There really needs to be a major clean up. And that will take gumption.

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Big news is CR Goverment i am hearing is that US goverments CIA and DEA are fleeing Costa Rica. There has been lots of pay off of top people in PLN admin. CIA and DEA are scared that truth might come out about what they have been going in CR goverment under PLN admin. Expect big changes in goverment. You might see entire senior staff fired in OIJ and Education ministry. MOPT has the biggest problem money from that ministry is everywhere PLN used it as money laundry factory. I understand that most senior staff in PLN have sold there homes and are running from Costa Rica. EX mopt minister has been see in Panama and some of his staff are being investigated by DIS not the OIJ because OIJ has been covering up this mess in MOPT. I would expect much from US goverment they been covering up this mess with PLN. Laura Chinchilla brother is being watched very close he did some stuff with mopt. People need to start talking what has happened under PLN admin. Also understand Prez Oscar A is admin is being look into.

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Interpol takes orders from Costa Rica goverment that means new prez wants Paul Watson.

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