Anti-whaling protesters are ‘pirates’ – US court

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FILE – In this May 23, 2012 file picture Paul Watson, founder and President of the animal rights and environmental group Sea Shepherd Conservation takes part in a demonstration against the Costa Rican government near Germany’s Presidential residence during a visit of Costa Rica’s president Laura Chinchilla in Berlin, Germany. Their supporters call them heroes. The Japanese government calls them terrorists. AP

SAN FRANCISCO — Their supporters call them heroes. The Japanese government calls them terrorists.

Late Monday, the United States’ largest federal court labeled them pirates.

In doing so, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals castigated Paul Watson and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society he founded for the tactics used in their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the dangerous waters of Antarctica.

“You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel. “When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.”

The same court in December ordered the organization to keep its ships at least 500 yards from Japanese whalers. The whalers have since accused the protesters of violating that order at least twice this month.

The ruling overturned a Seattle trial judge’s decision siding with the protesters and tossing out a lawsuit filed by a group of Japanese whalers seeking a court-ordered halt to the aggressive tactics, many of which were broadcast on the Animal Planet reality television show “Whale Wars.”

US District Judge Richard Jones had sided with Sea Shepherd on several grounds in tossing out the whalers’ piracy accusations and refusing to prohibit the conservation group’s protests. He determined the protesters’ tactics were nonviolent because they targeted equipment and ships rather than people.

The judge also said the whalers were violating an Australian court order banning the hunt and so were precluded from pursuing their lawsuit in the United States.

The appeals court called Jones’ ruling “off base” and took the rare step of ordering the case transferred to another Seattle judge to comply with its ruling Monday. The appeals court said Jones had misinterpreted the Australian ruling, which didn’t address the protesters’ actions.

“The district judge’s numerous, serious and obvious errors identified in our opinion raise doubts as to whether he will be perceived as impartial in presiding over this high-profile case,” Kozinski wrote.

Charles Moure, an attorney representing Sea Shepherd, said he would ask an 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit to reconsider Monday’s ruling, including Jones’ removal from the case.

“They are killing whales in violation of an Australian court order,” Moure said.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_W7TPARCYJFCSA3PBQAM3MVZO3E kurakut

    militants gets its money from ardent supporters. so is sea shepherd.

  • Jimmy Munar

    Greenpeace is nothing but a trouble maker..!!! Why don,t they confront the communist chinese poachers poaching in the waters of West Philippine Sea..!!!! ??????????

    • Alicor Panao

      Confront the Chinese poaching in the West Philippine Sea? I am sorry but isn’t that supposed to be the job of the Philippine Navy?

  • Horst Manure

    Keep up the good work Sea Shepard, why are the Jap’s allowed to store whale meat and give it away to the crew if it is so precious and if it is scientific research how dumb are the scientist’s if they have been at it this long and still looking , what are they trying to research.. why whales are dying?

    • riza888

      Sea Shepard use human life-endangering vigilante tactics to save seal pups and whales. They harass legal Japanese researchers, to the point of trespassing on the ships and endangering crews by ramming ships in mid ocean. (I am against whaling based on animal-welfare standards, but also against vigilantism.) The time has come to insist that radical environmentalists obey the law in their protests.

  • Pablo Juan

    having a skull and bones black flag behind you doesnt help

  • isalexus

    THE END does not justify the mean!! And those eco-pirates are just that– THUGS!!!

  • okayayonip

    japs should eat crodiles instead of whale meat the reason of their septic smelling breath.

  • Rolly257

    It’s commendable and admirable to have people likes these courageous crew of Sea Shepherd.

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