(Q24N) Shielded from extradition requests by Costa Rica and Japan, controversial Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson is now living as international fugitive in France, granting him political asylum.
On Interpol’s Red List, Watson is a marine vigilante who’s done jail time for extradition requests. Yet to many, he’s also a heroic marine conservationist who risks his life and those of his crew to save countless endangered whales, turtles, dolphins and sharks from slaughter.
Love him or loathe him, Paul Watson, the 65-year-old, silver-haired founder of Sea Shepherd and co-founder of Greenpeace is now a celebrity because of his job: ramming whaling boats for a living.
Watson has a hit U.S. reality TV series, Whale Wars, that has aired on the Discovery Channel since 2008 about his organization’s fight against Japanese whalers. And his influence reached new heights with the award-winning documentary Sharkwater, which conservationists say resulted in shark finning being banned worldwide.
The tactics have landed him in the legal hot water even as they boost his renown. During an interview with The Associated Press in Paris, Watson — a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen — was stopped four times in the street by fans of all nationalities who asked for autographs.
“The camera is the most powerful weapon we’ve ever invented, so we had to utilize that weapon. That’s why we created the (reality) show,” he said.
Watson asserts that the charges are trumped up. Watson now lives as an international fugitive in a luxurious 18th-century chateau near Bordeaux.
“It’s not bad,” he said with a smile to Associated Press.
Japan says Watson allegedly masterminded Sea Shepherd’s disruption of Japanese whale hunts in the Antarctic Ocean and thus put whalers’ lives at risk during the hunt.
Watson said the original charges from Japan — the world’s biggest whaling nation — date from 2010, when a Japanese whaling vessel cut a US$2 million Sea Shepherd boat in half. The Sea Shepherd captain then boarded the Japanese ship — “to confront the whaler who just destroyed his boat” — and was summarily arrested. Watson claims the captain “made a deal” with the Japanese to suspend his sentence “in return for him saying that I ordered him to board.”
Watson says the Costa Rica request is also trumped up and is linked to the Japanese charges.
“I don’t love the celebrity thing, but it’s what gets the message across,” Watson said, citing supporters including Christian Bale, William Shatner, Pierce Brosnan, Sean Connery and Richard Dean Anderson. “We can’t lose because we’ve got two James Bonds, Batman, Captain Kirk and MacGyver on our advisory board.”
Isn’t he forgetting Robert Redford, who is also on the board?
“Robert Redford wasn’t a superhero in Captain America, he was a villain,” he laughed.
Read the original article at the Calgary Herald.