Activist Watson gets Australian visa

AFP-JIJI

Fugitive eco-warrior Paul Watson says that he has been granted an Australian visa and that he cannot for the moment lead anti-whaling campaigning, due to legal action.

The 62-year-old Canadian, who arrived in the United States last week after 15 months on the run at sea, said he is confident that his Sea Shepherd organization’s campaign is in good hands.

“Australia granted my visa this week and it is wonderful to realize that I am now welcome to return to Australia when I so choose to do so,” he said in an update on his Facebook page, posted late Friday. “I will, however, not be leading Operation Relentless nor will I be involved in the campaign,” he said, adding that he is “prohibited” from campaigning by a U.S. court injunction that he is fighting.

Watson is wanted by Interpol after skipping bail in July last year in Germany, where he was arrested on Costa Rican charges relating to a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002.

Japanese authorities describe methods used by his marine conservation organization against whaling ships — for example blocking the boats’ propellers — as “terrorist,” and the government has requested Watson’s arrest.