Ocean conservationist and Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson, 63, started a social media campaign Monday asking followers to write to Costa Rica’s new president, Luis Guillermo Solís, and urge that an extradition request against Watson be dropped.
“I was placed on the Interpol Red List by the very corrupt former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla whose administration saw the shark finners make huge profits with few arrests. Her administration also did nothing to prevent the death of Jairo Mora Sandoval who requested government protection months before he was murdered,” Watson wrote on his Facebook profile. “I am hopeful that President D. Luis Guillermo Solis will address both corruption and the illegal slaughter of turtles and sharks in Costa Rican waters.”
Solís took office on May 8, but has not publicly commented on Watson’s case. His predecessor, Chinchilla, made no effort to hide her contempt of Watson and his comments, accusing the Sea Shepherd founder of harboring “disdain for the Costa Rican rule of law.” Chinchilla and officials in her administration have always referred to Costa Rica’s separation of powers when asked about the 12-year-old case of “attempted shipwrecking,” in which a Costa Rican fisherman injured a finger in an incident off the Guatemalan coast.
In March, Chinchilla’s communications minister, Carlos Roverssi, blamed Watson and “leftist groups” for smearing “the good name of Costa Rica” in response to the country’s dramatic drop on 2014′s World’s Best Ethical Travel Destinations List.
But Watson, who wants to work with the Costa Rican government on marine conservation policy, believes the new administration will be more receptive than the last one. And he hopes his army of social media followers will help spread the word.
“I believe that President Solis has great potential to make a significant and positive difference in protecting marine diversity in Costa Rican waters,” Watson wrote. “I would like to request a favor of all on this facebook page to send a polite message to President Solis with a request that Costa Rica drops the extradition order demanding that I be brought to Costa Rica.
“Sea Shepherd and I would like to return to helping protect the turtles and sharks in Costa Rican waters,” he added.
To read the latest on the ongoing legal battle, click here.