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Sea Shepherd founder flees before group's ships dock in Australia; gov't denies arrest plans

The founder of Sea Shepherd left the environmental group's fleet of anti-whaling ships before they docked in Australia, though the government says it has no reason to arrest him.

Three ships belonging to the U.S.-based group docked at the southern port of Williamstown on Wednesday after weeks of harassing Japanese whalers in the Antarctic Ocean.

The organization said the group's founder Paul Watson, a 62-year-old Canadian, left the fleet before it reached Australia for fear of arrest. His whereabouts have not been disclosed.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus told Parliament that authorities would not have been arrested Watson because no Australian arrest warrant exists.

But Dreyfus would not say whether Japan or any other country had requested Watson's extradition — a necessary step before an arrest warrant is issued.