Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson 'flees Germany'

Founder of anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd Paul Watson (file) Mr Watson's group intercepts ships hunting for whales and sharks

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A Canadian environmental activist has jumped bail in Germany and disappeared.

The founder of US-based anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, Paul Watson, was detained in Germany in May after Costa Rica issued a warrant for his arrest.

He is accused of having endangered the crew of a Costa Rican ship that was fishing for sharks in 2002.

A Frankfurt court has ordered his re-arrest. But his lawyer was quoted as saying "he has left Germany for an unknown destination".

The group's confrontation with a Costa Rican ship happened in Guatemalan waters. Sea Shepherd alleges that the ship was engaged in illegal shark-finning - the practice of catching a shark, slicing off its valuable fin and returning the shark to the water, where it will usually die.

Mr Watson, 61, faced possible extradition to Costa Rica. He was on bail of 250,000 euros (£196,000; $303,000) and had to report regularly to the German authorities while the extradition request was being considered.

Mr Watson had asked Germany to block his extradition, saying he would not be safe in Costa Rica. Sea Shepherd rejects Costa Rica's charges, saying neither the ship - the Varadero - nor its crew had been harmed in the incident.

Sea Shepherd is a controversial direct action group best known for disrupting Japan's annual whale hunt.

In the past there have been collisions between its vessels and the whaling fleet, and its activists have also boarded Japanese vessels.

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