Sea Shepherd founder skips bail in Germany

A German court has ordered environmental activist Paul Watson of the group Sea Shepherd rearrested, saying Wednesday that he skipped bail and apparently left the country.

The 61-year-old Canadian was first arrested May 13 at Frankfurt Airport on a Costa Rican warrant that claimed he had endangered the crew of a fishing vessel a decade ago. Watson was released days later on a €250,000 ($320,000) bond and ordered to report regularly to authorities while Costa Rica's extradition request was considered.

"His attorney now says that his client informed him by telephone that he has left Germany for an unknown destination," the Hesse regional court in a statement, noting that Watson failed to report to authorities since Sunday.

Watson's German attorney didn't respond to repeated telephone messages Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Sea Shepherd in the United States declined immediately to comment.

Shortly after his arrest in May Sea Shepherd issued a statement saying Watson was filming a documentary at the time of the alleged incident, which took place in Guatemalan waters in 2002. The U.S.-based group said it encountered an illegal shark finning operation run by a Costa Rican ship, the Varadero, and told the crew to stop and head to port to be prosecuted. The crew accused Sea Shepherd of trying to kill them by ramming their ship.

Watson has a history of confrontations with whalers and fishermen.

He left Greenpeace in 1977 to set up the more action-oriented Sea Shepherd. The group has waged aggressive campaigns to protect whales, dolphins and other marine animals, prompting Japanese officials to labels its member terrorists and seek Watson's arrest for allegedly masterminding violent protests.