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Sea Shepherd activist Paul Watson skips $320,000 bail in Germany

Odd Andersen / AFP - Getty Images, file

Paul Watson, Canadian founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has skipped bail in Germany, where he was facing possible extradition to Costa Rica on charges stemming from a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002.

MAINZ, Germany -- Environmental activist Paul Watson has skipped bail in Germany, according to a court statement.

The Canadian founder of the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group was arrested at the Frankfurt airport in May on a Costa Rican warrant that claimed he had endangered the crew of a fishing vessel.


Watson was released days after his arrest on a $320,000 bail and ordered to report regularly to police. But he failed to check in with authorities and his attorney told the court that he had left the country for an undisclosed location.

"Watson has not reported to the police since July 22," a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt said. "We do not know where Watson is at the moment." 

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The public prosecutor's office told NBC News that a nationwide search has been launched in case Watson is still in Germany. The prosecutor has also requested that the $320,000 bail be paid out to the German state.

Watson is known for waging aggressive campaigns to protect whales, dolphins and other marine animals. 

He had been awaiting possible extradition over the charges stemming from his campaign against shark fining, a practice that involves catching sharks, slicing off their fins and throwing them back into the sea, sometimes barely alive.

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After being freed on bail in May, Watson made a brief appearance in Berlin at a protest coinciding with a visit by Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.

Chinchilla has promised Watson a fair trial if he is extradited to her country.

Anti-whaling activists and a Japanese whaling vessel squared off in a scuffle at sea. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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