SYDNEY – The International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, issued a Red Notice on Tuesday for Paul Watson, leader of the antiwhaling group Sea Shepherd, asking member countries to detain or arrest him for extradition.
Interpol upgraded Watson’s Blue Notice status, designed for gathering information on a suspect across borders, following confirmation he had fled Germany while on bail.
Watson was arrested in Germany in May at the request of Costa Rica, which several reports said was seeking his extradition to charge him with disrupting one of its country’s vessels engaged in illegal shark finning operations. A later report contradicts this, however, and claims the Costa Rican ship was filming a documentary on sharks.
In 2010, the Japan Coast Guard obtained an arrest warrant for Watson, charging that he obstructed Japan’s research whaling fleet. At the coast guard’s request, Interpol put him on its wanted list with a Blue Notice. After Watson failed to meet the bail conditions set by the German courts, Interpol switched to the Red Notice as requested by Costa Rica.
While Watson was out on bail, Japanese authorities asked their German counterparts via diplomatic channels to extradite him to Japan.
In a statement, the Sea Shepherd leader, whose whereabouts is unknown, said he fled Germany as soon as he heard about Japan’s move, adding he is confident he can win the Costa Rica case.
Watson argued that he can meet expectations of his supporters if he is at sea rather than in a Japanese jail, emphasizing that the group will continue to confront Japanese whaling vessels.