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Response from Sea Shepherd to release by Pete Bethune

Response from Sea Shepherd to Scoop NZ 's release by Pete Bethune

Point by point response by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Watson of Sea Shepherd Disingenuous

Friday, 21 September 2012, 2:56 pmPress Release: Pete Bethune

”Being Called a ‘Turncoat’ by Captain Watson of Sea Shepherd is Disingenuous to Put It Mildly”, Says Earthrace Founder, Pete Bethune

Recent press releases and statements issued by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have sought to blame Pete Bethune for many of the legal problems that the organization and its ‘iconic’ founder, Captain Paul Watson currently face in connection with Interpol ‘Red Notices’ issued on behalf of Japan and Costa Roca.

Sea Shepherd: Sea Shepherd does not need to blame Pete Bethune for the fact that Japan is pursuing charges against Captain Paul Watson. The information provided in the extradition request clearly states that the order is based on allegations against Captain Paul Watson made by Pete Bethune.

Bethune has spoken up reluctantly in order to clarify his position and strongly refute the allegations.

Sea Shepherd: He certainly has not spoken up reluctantly. He has been issuing attacks on Captain Watson to the media worldwide over the last two months.

He said, “For Sea Shepherd to call me a ‘turncoat who swapped his own head for Captain Watson’s’ in order to ‘avoid serving a prison sentence in Japan’, is disingenuous to put it mildly. I spent five months in a maximum-security prison awaiting trial, and anything I said during the trial was said on the advice of Sea Shepherd’s lawyers.

Sea Shepherd: Captain Paul Watson at no time ever referred to Pete Bethune as a "turncoat." He has referred to Pete Bethune as a rat and a snitch for providing false testimony to Japanese prosecutors in return for a reduced sentence.

“The time I spent locked up is longer than anyone else who has been imprisoned whilst working under Paul Watson for Sea Shepherd as a volunteer, not to mention a great deal longer than Paul Watson has ever had to experience himself.”

Sea Shepherd: This is not factually correct that Captain Watson has not experienced being held in prison. Captain Paul Watson 120 days in a Dutch prison in 1997 fighting a Norwegian extradition request. He won the extradition trial and was released. Captain's Peter Hammarstedt and Alex Cornelissen were held in Canada on charges of documenting the seal slaughter. They refused to cooperate with Canadian authorities and did not say a single word under interrogation. Sea Shepherd crewmember Erwin Vermulen was arrested in 2011 and held for two months and interrogated each day. The prosecutors also asked for Vermulen to testify against Captain Watson. Mr.Vermulen refused to testify and refused to talk to the prosecutors. He was found not guilty and Japan paid damages for false imprisonment. Unlike the other crewmembers, Pete Bethune was not a Sea Shepherd volunteer. He was paid as part of the deal to charter the boat Ady Gil.

It is no secret that Watson is in ultimate charge of all his volunteers, and what he says, goes. Like all the other volunteers, Bethune would have followed Watson’s orders had he told him not to board the Shonan Maru #2 after the Ady Gil, the world-record breaking boat that by then sported the Sea Shepherd logo on its hull, was rammed. At no time did Watson ever issue that order.

Sea Shepherd: Actually Captain Watson is not in charge of all his volunteers. The crew answers to their respective captains. Because the Ady Gil was not a Sea Shepherd ship, Pete Bethune was not obligated to answer to Captain Watson and in fact he did not. Captain Watson expressly requested him to not bring weapons onboard or to irresponsibly engage the harpoon vessels. He did both. He was hired to scout out the whaling fleet not to engage them. Bethune's crew were not Sea Shepherd volunteers, they were his own chosen crew answering only to him. Captain Watson did not order Bethune to board the Shonan Maru #2. In fact on the television show Whale Wars he specifically advises Bethune not to do so. Bethune used his own jet ski assisted by his own crewmember and informed Captain Watson and the Sea Shepherd officers that this was his decision and he would take complete responsibility for his actions. Once in custody he changed his mind and made a deal, telling the Japanese what they wanted to hear about Captain Watson in exchange for a suspended sentence.

Bethune says, “If SSCS was not prepared for the consequences of the boarding which were always going to implicate the organization and the man in charge as well as myself, they should never have asked for volunteers to attempt it, nor should Watson have ever approved the mission in its entirety.”

Sea Shepherd: Captain Paul Watson has only asked Australian citizens to volunteer because he knew that Australia would never allow the taking of an Australian citizen from Australian waters back to Japan. None of the crew that Captain Watson has authorized to board a Japanese whaler were ever taken back to Japan. Captain Paul Watson specifically advised Pete Bethune to not board the Shonan Maru #2.

As Watson’s own organization’s press release stated at the start of Bethune’s trial, “Sea Shepherd’s Seattle-based law firm, Harris & Moure, will have two of its lawyers in Tokyo during the trial both to assist Bethune’s Japanese defense team and to explain Sea Shepherd’s position regarding the trial and Japan’s illegal whaling operations”.As Bethune explains, “If Paul felt that what I did was off my own bat, solely my responsibility and no-one else’s, why were his lawyers, paid for by Sea Shepherd, there helping me and making contributions to the trial on behalf of Sea Shepherd.

Sea Shepherd: Sea Shepherd supported Pete Bethune in Japan with legal fees to the tune of nearly a half a million dollars. He was arrested for saving the whales and we felt that we should support him and that we needed to do everything we could to win his freedom. We were not prepared for him to make false accusation against Captain Watson. He did so and the transcripts of those allegations were made available to Sea Shepherd.

Bethune was strongly advised to concede to four charges and fight the fifth. He says, “Of course I took the advice the lawyers gave me which was that if I refused to say anything, the legal bill would be $2 million, and I would probably be locked up for two years before the case was closed.

Sea Shepherd: We have spoken to the lawyers and at no time was such advise ever given to Bethune that he has to speak and certainly not to make accusations against Captain Watson

SSCS did lose some control of the legal process after they summarily expelled Bethune from the organization while he was still in jail. This was unexpected and unwelcome news for Bethune, which shocked him deeply.

Sea Shepherd: Bethune was expelled from Sea Shepherd for two reasons. The first because we discovered he had taken firearms and weapons on the Ady Gil when he was specifically told he could not do so and secondly for making false accusations against Captain Watson. However the Society had already committed the funds for Bethune's defense

Sea Shepherd claim they did this purposely in an attempt to help Bethune by showing that he would not be returning to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary on future campaigns. However Bethune disputes this, still feeling it did more to harm his case than help it.

Sea Shepherd: Sea Shepherd did claim to disassociate ourselves from Bethune for reasons other than the weapons and the false accusations but we knew the real reasons would prejudice Bethune's defense so it was in fact helping him by not disclosing real reasons at the time.

As far as Watson’s assertion that the Japanese are preparing a case against him based on Bethune’s evidence at his own trial, he says, “I, and every volunteer on board one of their vessels, or who has ever watched ‘Whale Wars’ knows that Paul regularly orders his crews to carry out prop fouling missions, fire butyric acid onto the Japanese vessels, or shine lasers at the whaling crews.

Sea Shepherd: The charges against Captain Watson are based solely on Pete Bethune's allegations and false evidence. These allegations are the only thing the charges are based on.

“All these are crimes that the Japanese could quite easily allege fall under ‘Damage to Property’, ‘Forcible Obstruction of Business’, and ‘Injury’ under Japanese law.

“Watson also says publicly and often that he and his crew have prevented the Japanese from killing thousands of whales and that the actions of SSCS under the captaincy of Paul Watson have cost the whalers millions of dollars. Under Japanese law, that is also ‘Forcible Obstruction of Business’. It is little wonder that the Japanese want to take legal action against Sea Shepherd, but it’s clear they don’t require any evidence from anyone else to feel they have a case.”

Sea Shepherd: The charges against Captain Watson are not obstruction of business but specifically that he ordered Pete Bethune to trespass on the Shonan Maru #2 with a knife and to assault crewmembers.

Bethune concluded, “Watson should stop blaming me for his predicament. To call me a turncoat is galling considering the sacrifices I made on Sea Shepherd’s behalf. The moment I boarded the Shonan Maru #2, I came under Japanese law, and I was prepared for the consequences. It would seem that Watson was not.”

Sea Shepherd: Captain Watson is not blaming Pete Bethune. The evidence demonstrates that Pete Bethune is responsible for the charges against Captain Watson. And obviously Bethune was not prepared for the consequences. What he did was to sell Captain Watson out by making a deal to give the Japanese what they wanted and they wanted Captain Watson, not Pete Bethune.


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