Sea Shepherd Galapagos Director Sean O'Hean-Gimenez has not been deported but his status remains in limbo.
O'Hearn-Gimenez was allowed to get off a flight from Quito to Atlanta just five minutes before the departure of the plane when President Rafael Correa rescinded his order to illegally deport him from Ecuador without due process of law. O'Hearn-Gimenez would have been forced to leave his Ecuadorian wife Elsa and their baby daughter behind in Ecuador. O'Hearn-Gimenez is both a United States citizen and a legal resident of Ecuador and the Galapagos.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a legally registered Ecuadorian non-governmental organization and is requesting of President Correa that he reinstate the resident visa of O'Hearn-Gimenez and allow him to continue his work in Ecuador.
O'Hearn-Gimenez was working in partnership with the Ecuadorian National Police on Friday evening of August 3rd, when he was snatched from the streets by twelve immigration police officers and ordered deported immediately on orders from the President.
Sea Shepherd and the National Environmental Police had just made the largest bust of shark fins in Ecuadorian history seizing nearly three tons of shark fins and arresting major leaders of the Ecuadorian shark fin mafia. These criminals were very well connected politically. They were released, and the shark fins despite being illegally obtained, were returned to them.
Immediately after, O'Hearn-Gimenez was apprehended while being escorted by a security detail of the Ecuadorian National Police that had been assigned to him after a price was placed on his head from unknown people in the city of Manta. The security detail were shocked and powerless to resist the Immigration police who were acting under the direct orders of the President. Sea Shepherd lawyer Gina Solis was physically roughed up by the Immigration police and was denied permission to counsel O'Hearn-Gimenez while he was in custody.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is calling on President Correa to also rescind his decree authorizing the sale of shark fins obtained from "incidental" kills. This is a loophole that will lead to the extermination of sharks in Ecuadorian waters. All sharks caught on longlines can be categorized as incidental if the fisherman states that his intention was to catch something else.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is holding a media conference in Quito at 1700 Hours.