Environmentalist blames Canada's Harper for revoking passport

Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:05pm EDT
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By Mike De Souza

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Paul Watson, a Canadian environmentalist and star of a reality television show, says Canada has effectively barred him from returning to the country since his passport was seized three years ago by German authorities.

Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society whose boats have been involved in high seas confrontations, said he believes the decision was driven by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's dislike of environmentalists. He said it was unlikely that a low-level bureaucrat would have unilaterally decided to confiscate his passport.

Watson initially made the claim in a Facebook posting on June 6.

The Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Department said it was not immediately able to answer questions about the case.

Watson, 64, who holds both U.S. and Canadian citizenship, had both passports seized by German authorities in 2012 after they detained him on warrants from Japan and Costa Rica.

German authorities later gave the passports to local U.S. and Canadian missions in Germany. But while the Americans returned his passport, he said the Canadian consulate in Frankfurt held onto his Canadian passport and officials declined to explain why they could not return it.

"They're just basically stonewalling me on this," Watson said in a telephone interview with Reuters. Watson said he was in Paris and has been there since July 2014.

Watson, whose organization is featured on the reality television show "Whale Wars," said he has not been able to return to Canada because he is required to show his Canadian passport to return to the country. He said he has not attempted to return to Canada because he believes he would be turned away at the border.   Continued...

Environmentalist and founder of Sea Shepherd, Paul Watson talks to media and friends after he was released from prison in Frankfurt, May 21, 2012.  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach