Marine conservationist Paul Watson has been freed from a German jail following publicity campaigns by actress Brigitte Bardot and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The Sea Shepherd captain and star of TV series Whale Wars walked free on Monday (21May12) after posting 250,000 euros ($318,000) bail in an extradition case from Costa Rica.
Watson was detained in Frankfurt last week (ends18May12) after Costa Rican authorities issued an international request for his arrest, alleging that the conservationist and his crew aboard Sea Shepherd’s Ocean Warrior ship endangered a Costa Rican fishing vessel during a confrontation in 2002.
Defending his actions a decade ago, Watson told reporters upon his release from jail, "I had to take action with my crew a decade ago to protect hundreds of sharks, and of course, those shark poachers have very powerful allies in government and other places."
He has denied any wrongdoing and admits he's puzzled about his arrest.
He adds, "It's very strange that this so-called extradition thing was dismissed by Interpol in every country except Germany."
A spokesman for the Sea Shepherd organisation insists there is a sinister undertone to the extradition request, stating, "The enemies of the oceans are using all of their resources to stop us... This stems from Sea Shepherd victories in curbing shark finning on the high seas."
The confrontation between Watson and his crew and the Costa Rican fishermen featured in a 2007 documentary, titled Sharkwater.
Watson hopes the publicity about his arrest will help generate interest in marine conservation issues: "We have all the laws and regulations we need to protect our oceans, but we don't have governments with the guts to enforce those regulations."
During his week-long jail stay, Watson had celebrity support from Bardot, who offered to switch places with the incarcerated conservationist, and his friends the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who urged fans to seek out more information about his arrest and what he and his crew do on the high seas.