Allison Lance Watson and Alex Cornelissen have spent 13 days in jail without any charges laid against them in connection with the freeing of 15 dolphins on November 18, 2003 in Taiji, Japan.
On November 30, they were taken from jail to appear before a judge in the Wakayama Prefecture. The judge ordered Alex and Allison to be held for another ten days until December 9 before a decision will be reached on an indictment for the crime of forceful interference with Japanese commerce.
Under Japanese law, suspects may be held for a total of twenty-three days without the right to communicate with family or friends. During this time the prosecution investigates the crime to decide if charges should be laid.
Nik Hensey returned from Japan on November 27. Canadian Customs held him for seven hours before permitting him to board a connecting flight to Los Angeles. U.S. Customs searched his baggage and photocopied his journal and all of his receipts before allowing him to re-enter his own country. In total, U.S. Customs took 96 pages of photocopies.
A week before Thomas Heineman returned to the U.S. after two weeks in Taiji. He was also searched by Customs and in an unusual move the Los Angeles police department questioned him about his activities in Taiji.
Both men were searched by Japanese authorities prior to their departure from Japan. The authorities were searching for film and tapes of the Taiji dolphin slaughter.
Apparently the Japanese government is requesting that American citizens be questioned and harassed by Canadian and U.S. authorities. The U.S. authorities also asked questions about tapes and film.
The Japanese authorities have indicated that the crime of freeing the dolphins carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of up to 500,000 yen ($5,000).
Every year, the Japanese slaughter over 22,000 dolphins and small whales in small coastal villages.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has had a crew in Taiji, Japan since September 29. The crew, despite harassment, assaults, and the arrests of Allison and Alex were able to document the killing of dolphins and whales on four occasions, including the killing of protected mellon-headed whales. This evidence of Japanese violations of international law captured by Sea Shepherd is motivating the harassment of Sea Shepherd crew and the continued detention of two of the crew by police in the Wakayama Prefecture of Japan.
In 1981, Dexter Cate of the Fund for Animals was held for six months on charges of freeing dolphins at Iki Island in Japan.
The freeing of dolphins to prevent their slaughter is considered a major offense in this whale-killing, dolphin-slaughtering nation.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is organizing an International Day of Protest Against the Japanese Dolphin Slaughter on December 10th.