Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has rescinded his deportation order against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Director Sean O'Hearn-Gimenez and has freed him from custody. Public outrage in Ecuador against the news of O'Hearn-Gimenez's deportation and nationwide media coverage convinced the government to retract the deportation order.
The order to free O'Hearn-Gimenez came just five minutes before he was to be escorted onto a plane to be flown out of the country.
Sea Shepherd wishes to thank President Correa for this action and urges him to rescind the presidential decree that allows for the trade in shark fins. Sea Shepherd also urges the President to proceed with prosecutions against the shark fin smugglers who Sea Shepherd and the National Police arrested.
The arrests exposed the ringleaders of the shark fin mafia, and it was the arrests of these powerful underworld figures that triggered the political reprisals against Sea Shepherd and the National Police.
Sea Shepherd is preparing a detailed report on the incident and the overall situation within the next few days.
"This is a great victory," said Captain Paul Watson, Founder and President of Sea Shepherd. "We have exposed the scum who illegally trade in shark fins and marine wildlife products. The Ecuadorian public and media know who they are, and the politicians must now decide if they are pro-conservation or pro-criminal. I trust that President Correa will make the right decision and that Sea Shepherd will continue to work in cooperation with the National Police to eradicate this insidiously cruel illegal trade."
O'Hearn-Gimenez was reunited with his wife Elsa and their baby daughter. The family returned to Quito for pizza with Sea Shepherd lawyers, friends, and supporters to celebrate the President's decision to rescind his ordered deportation.