Anti-whaling activist to testify in US court

Nov 6, 2013, 10:53 AM

SEATTLE (AP) – A fugitive anti-whaling activist known for confronting Japanese whaling vessels off Antarctica is due to testify about his actions in a U.S. court Wednesday.

Paul Watson, founder of the Oregon-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is expected to take the witness stand in a contempt of court hearing in Seattle.

The Japanese whalers argue that the organization 10 times violated an order barring its vessels from attacking or coming within 500 yards of the whaling ships. They’ve asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to impose fines of $100,000 for each violation, though they suggested the court waive those fines as long as the protesters stop confronting their ships.

The case is part of a long-running fight between the protesters and Japan’s whaling fleet, which kills up to 1,000 whales a year, as allowed by the International Whaling Commission.

Japan is permitted to hunt the animals as long as they are killed for research and not commercial purposes, but whale meat not used for study is sold as food in Japan. Critics say that’s the real reason for the hunts.

For several years, Sea Shepherd operated anti-whaling campaigns in the Southern Ocean. Activists aboard its vessels would hurl acid and smoke bombs at the whalers and drag ropes in the water to damage their propellers.

Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research eventually sued Sea Shepherd and Watson in federal court. The 9th Circuit issued an injunction last December _ just before the whaling season was to begin _ and in another ruling this year described the activists as “pirates.”

“You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote.

In response to the injunction, Sea Shepherd says it withdrew from any participation in the whaling protest early this year. Instead, it says its cousin, Sea Shepherd of Australia Limited, took over _ and that organization insists it wasn’t subject to the court’s order.

The hearing in Seattle, which began last week, is aimed in part at determining whether the Australian organization carried out the protest in concert with Sea Shepherd. The whalers argue that the distinction between Sea Shepherd and its Australian counterpart is largely fictional: Sea Shepherd had spent about $2.5 million preparing for the protest, including the cost of fuel and ship crews eventually used in the protest.

Watson is a white-goateed 62-year-old whose exploits have been featured on the Animal Planet reality television show “Whale Wars.” He fled from Germany last year after being arrested at the behest of the Costa Rican government, which is pursuing him on a warrant that claims he endangered a fishing crew in 2002. He has said he believes the arrest was made under pressure from Japan, and that he eventually would have been extradited there had he remained in Germany.

Jeff Hansen, director of Sea Shepherd of Australia, testified Tuesday that his organization did not coordinate with the American Sea Shepherd group after the injunction was issued. He said he does not believe the U.S. courts have jurisdiction over international waters _ “No disrespect, of course,” he told the court.

And he vowed that no matter what the U.S. court rules, his organization will forge ahead with plans to challenge the Japanese whaling fleet early next year.

“We’re answering to our clients, which is the whales,” he said.

___

Follow Johnson on Twitter at
https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)...
Associated Press

Ex-Twitter execs to testify on block of Hunter Biden story

Former Twitter employees are expected to testify next week before the House Oversight Committee about the social media platform's handling of reporting on President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden.
1 day ago
FILE - The seal of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System is displayed ...
Associated Press

Federal Reserve set to impose smaller hike could hint of fewer increases

The Federal Reserve is poised this week to raise its benchmark interest rate for an eighth time since March.
1 day ago
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)...
Associated Press

President Biden announces COVID-19 emergencies to end May 11

President Joe Biden informed Congress on Monday that he will end the twin national emergencies for addressing COVID-19 on May 11.
1 day ago
(AP File Photo/Geneva Heffernan)...
Associated Press

Valley woman among 3 killed in shooting at Los Angeles rental home

Three women, including one from Buckeye, were killed in a weekend shooting at a short-term rental home in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood.
1 day ago
(Arizona Department of Transportation photo)...
Associated Press

Should federal grants be in favor of highway repair over expansion?

Advocates for highway construction are concerned their projects are getting shortchanged in the competition for grant money under the new infrastructure law.
2 days ago
Demonstrators block traffic protesting the death of Tyre Nichols on January 27, 2023 in Memphis, Te...
Associated Press

Memphis police chief disbands unit responsible in beating of Tyre Nichols

The unit is composed of three teams of about 30 officers and had been inactive since Tyre Nichols' Jan. 7 arrest.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Anti-whaling activist to testify in US court