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Japan seeking revenge: Paul Watson

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Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson has accused Japan of hunting him down in revenge for his attacks on its whaling operations, in his first comments since he jumped bail and fled Germany.

The militant environmentalist who is in hiding, says he felt betrayed by Germany, where he was under house arrest for 70 days, because it had negotiated with Japan to extradite him to Tokyo.

"I am very disappointed with the German government. For me it is obvious that the German government conspired with Japan and Costa Rica to detain me so that I could be handed over to the Japanese," he said on Tuesday in a message to his supporters.

Mr Watson, who for years has harassed Japan's annual whale hunt off Antarctica, was arrested in Germany in May for extradition to Costa Rica on charges stemming from a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002.

He was detained for a week before being released on bail. He was ordered to appear before police twice a day. But the 61-year-old skipped bail on July 22.

Mr Watson said Costa Rica and Germany had been "pawns in the Japanese quest to silence Sea Shepherd", which has for close to a decade clashed with harpoon ships in the Southern Ocean.

"This was never really about Costa Rica. It has been about Japan all along," he said.

"We have confronted the Japanese whalers for eight seasons and we have humiliated them at sea and more importantly we have frustrated their illegal profiteering from the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

"This is not about justice; it is about revenge."

Mr Watson, a white-haired Canadian national known as "Captain" to supporters, refused to reveal his location and said that if he was extradited to Japan he would "never be released".

"I am presently in a place on this planet where I feel comfortable, a safe place far away from the scheming nations who have turned a blind eye to the exploitation of our oceans," he wrote.

But he indicated that he would continue to harass Japanese harpoonists.

"I can serve my clients better at sea than in a Japanese prison cell and I intend to do just that," he wrote, saying that Sea Shepherd would sail on its ninth campaign against Japanese whalers in December.

Australia is the launch site for Sea Shepherd boats each year as they chase the Japanese whalers.

AFP

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