FULL DISCLOSURE: The Letters That Caused All This Drama
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Founder and President, Captain Paul Watson, was initially reluctant to publish the correspondence between Pete Bethune and himself, because he felt it was unnecessary to do so and would distract from the important mission at hand. However, Bethune has posted an edited version of the e-mail chain on Facebook, and therefore, in the interest of full disclosure to the public, we feel it is important to publish the entire email chain for all to see. This includes an email in which Captain Watson notified Bethune that we had to break our ties with him, as well as Bethune’s response, which contains many false allegations and veiled threats.
Sea Shepherd’s decision to break ties with Bethune was made in the interest of security for our ships and our crewmembers. Bethune willfully cooperated with the Japanese police and gave them false information. This information is the basis of a case being prepared against Captain Watson by the Japanese authorities and could directly jeopardize our whale defense campaigns.
Sea Shepherd considers this a serious breach of trust, and therefore, there was no choice but to notify Bethune that we could no longer work with him. Below, so that our readers may decide for themselves what to believe, is the full chain of email correspondence between Captain Watson and Bethune.
Letter from Captain Paul Watson to Pete Bethune:
I do not wish to take away your status as a hero for what you did by boarding the Shonan Maru #2. It was a courageous move and you know that everyone in Sea Shepherd agrees with me on that. Thousands of people around the world look up to you. I would not wish to disappoint them.
You were not so courageous while in custody. And before you say that I don’t know what it is like to be held in custody, I will tell you that I was held for 120 days on a warrant from Norway. During that time I said absolutely nothing and I was released without charges.
Peter Hammarstedt and Alex Cornelissen were aggressively interrogated by the RCMP in Canada over their interventions against the seal hunt in 2008 and said nothing.
Allison Lance and Alex Cornelissen were aggressively interrogated for four weeks in Japan in 2003 for freeing dolphins and said nothing. They certainly did not blame anyone else for their actions.
You on the other hand blamed all of your actions on me and as a result I am on the Interpol Blue List which has already resulted in my being taken into custody at a U.S. border crossing with guns trained on me. I was handcuffed and locked up, briefly, but long enough for the Homeland Security advisor to say that Japan had described me as “armed and dangerous.”
Recently the Japanese police informed Scott West in Taiji that I was wanted and that there was a warrant out for my arrest. He said that neither he nor I knew anything about this warrant. The police told Scott that Pete Bethune had provided enough evidence to lay charges against me and to send me to prison in Japan.
These charges most likely include conspiracy for “ordering” you to board the Shonan Maru #2.
Yes, you apologized for making those statements and you told me you retracted them, but the problem with that is that there is a transcript of record for the accusations and there is no transcript of any retraction.
The evidence you provided against me is the foundation for Japan placing me on the list.
We have received the full transcript of your statement implicating me as the person who “ordered” you to board the Shonan Maru #2 and as the person who “ordered” you to do everything you admitted guilt for doing.”
It’s a very simple thing Pete. “Nobody talks, everybody walks.” You never say anything under interrogation unless you were tortured and you were not tortured.
You see Pete, up until now, Japan had no legal validity to do anything because we were on Dutch registered ships in international waters. When you stepped onboard the Shonan Maru #2 you were on Japanese “soil” so to speak and subject to Japanese law. You were, not us, and the choice to be there was yours, not ours.
You know that I allowed you to do what you wanted to do and that I did not order you, nor did I even suggest that you board the Shonan Maru #2. It was your decision, not mine, and it is inexcusable that you told the Japanese prosecutor that I ordered you to board the ship.
As you recall I wanted you to go to New Zealand to do publicity. You requested that I take you back to sea to board the Shonan Maru #2.
Basically you sold me out with a bogus statement. You lied, and what you received in return I have no idea. I’m sure it helped to provide leniency for your sentencing.
We spent over a half a million dollars on your defence Pete and yet you had the audacity to publicly say we betrayed you when our statement that we would be dismissing you actually helped your case and helped to set you free. And despite our providing the best legal team possible, you decided to talk and to betray us and apparently felt justified in doing so.
You came home a hero and I have no interest in disillusioning all those people who view you as a hero. You gave them hope and inspiration with your actions and that is very positive and overall good for this movement to protect the whales.
But it is not the truth. Your courage faltered under interrogation
And because of that we cannot work with you. We cannot promote your book or allow you to be involved in Sea Shepherd activities or to go on Sea Shepherd campaigns. We simply can’t trust you not to provide statements that will cause us problems. We cannot risk having you captured by the Japanese whalers again. We cannot trust that you would not agree to be a witness for the Japanese prosecution again, as you already have done.
What I would like to suggest is that you continue to do your thing independent of Sea Shepherd. We will say nothing publicly about you, if you say nothing publicly about us. We will simply say that we made a promise to the Japanese courts and we and you intend to honour that promise. This way you can retain your hero status and people will not be disappointed in you.
We still will be providing you with funds for the Ady Gil despite having spent a half a million on your defence and despite the fact that the vessel was lost because you were negligent. We have put the best face possible on it but let’s be honest Pete, there is no excuse for not having your vessel under control in the vicinity of a hostile ship. The Shonan Maru #2 was able to destroy your ship because you allowed them to do so. You took no evasive action. You and your crew were busy thumbing your noses at the Japanese and ironically laughing at how ineffective they were. You lost the ship Pete and if you were in the Navy you would have been court marshalled for what you allowed to happen.
In addition some of your hand picked crew threatened my officers with physical violence and demonstrated that they were the biggest whiners we have ever had the displeasure to work with on a campaign.
So please tell any of the Sea Shepherd chapters that have invited you to speak that you will have to decline. You need not give a reason.
I don’t wish to diminish your reputation. We need say nothing negatively about you in public and we request that you do the same.
Captain Paul Watson
From: Pete Bethune
I am writing this in an effort to curb the increasing dishonesty by SSCS towards myself and the volunteers and supporters of Sea Shepherd. I am considering going public regarding the following issues:
Concern Number One: Deliberate Scuttling of Ady Gil
A few days later I also confessed to Laurens about the scuttling. He was understandably very disappointed. So all crew on the Ady Gil are aware of the scuttling, and three of them are willing to sign affidavits testifying to the above, and they are also all willing to undergo lie detector tests to verify they are telling the truth.
I felt horrid after the scuttling and I have felt terrible about it ever since. It broke me heart to sink a vessel that had been such a big part of my life, and I also felt we had betrayed SSCS sponsors, SSCS supporters, Ady Gil, and the public by lying about it.
Concern Number 2: Maligning my Character over the Bow and Arrow
After the Ady Gil was sunk, crew of the Shonan Maru found four arrows in the water. Not surprising really, as Laurens had purchased 100 arrows for us in Hobart, and these were all stored in the forward sleeping quarters (where the Ady Gil got rammed). SSCS issued a press release denying all knowledge of the arrows, suggesting instead that the whalers had planted them as false evidence. There was no need to say anything at all. The story was the Ady Gil had sunk…not that some arrows had been found. No one really cared about four arrows when the whalers had explosive harpoons and 12 gauge shotguns.
In issuing the press release, SSCS was lying to media. It was a mistake to ever deny the arrows, and the communications debacle since then has been a total disgrace.
While I was imprisoned in Japan, senior Sea Shepherd people saw that the bow and arrow was to appear in the first episode of whale wars, and Lizard Productions refused to delete the scenes. SSCS wrongly felt they were in for a backlash about perceived violent tactics. They decided to expel me from SSCS. I have had this meeting verified by two sources. Chuck Swift falsely claimed in a press release that I took a banned object to Antarctica. Paul Watson then backs up Chuck by agreeing that he had no knowledge of the bow and arrow, and that yes I was expelled from SSCS.
This is a direct attack on my character, and I am sure I am well within my rights to sue SSCS for defamation of character.
Issue #3. The false Expulsion from SSCS
My legal team in fact only found out about the expulsion after it was announced to media. My legal team did include the expulsion in court evidence, reasoning it was now in the public domain, and the Judges would already be aware of it. But in no way did my legal team ever request, recommend or suggest that my expulsion would in any way assist with sentencing.
On getting out of prison, Paul and Laurens both said to me I was not expelled, and I was welcome back on all future campaigns. Several other senior SSCS people however confirmed that the expulsion was because of the bow and arrow, but the increasing backlash against my treatment had made SSCS come up with a suitable guise – in this case, it was all part of the master strategy to help with sentencing.
Issue #4. The Secret Agreement with Japanese Judges
Then in September, I was again told that SSCS had made a supposed secret agreement with Japanese Judges. This entailed my not participating in another Antarctica campaign, in exchange for a suspended sentence. This of course is in contrast with Paul and Laurens’ assurances on my release that I was still a bona fide member of SSCS and welcome on the next Antarctica campaign. It also contradicts the email sent from Paul following my release.
I have spoken to lawyers in Japan, a Japanese prosecutor, and several Japanese Journalists, and all have said it would be impossible for SSCS to reach any secret deal with the Judges. There is in fact no evidence to support this. No one knows who made the deal, which judges it was with, and what the specific terms were. It would represent interference in the judicial system.
If the head of the biggest Yakuza faction, incidentally some 3 cells down from mine in the Tokyo Detention Centre, and with half a billion dollars in assets at his disposal - well if he cannot make a deal with the Judiciary, what hope does an organisation like SSCS, routinely derided and despised in Japan as a terrorist organisation, have of cutting an illegal deal? The answer of course is none. There was no secret deal with the Judiciary.
My legal team all along said a suspended sentence was inevitable, as long as I cooperated with the Prosecutor and acted humble and contrite in court…which I did. If I refused to say anything however, they said the trial would take years and cost millions. I was advised if I took the “nobody talks, everybody walks” approach, I would be detained for a much longer period. So under advice from the legal counsel, I did agree to things to expedite the trial. This included pleading guilty to four charges.
Issue #5. Reneging on book purchases
If SSCS does not proceed with the order, I am left with a bill of NZ$16,000 that I am obligated to pay. I will of course have a further 800 books in my possession, but in reality these are best served being sold by SSCS that has the marketing, website presence and fundraisers to dispose of them easily, while making $16,000 in profits.
It represents just another backtrack from agreements already reached, and it is poor treatment for a person that has sacrificed much for SSCS.
Issue #6. I am not welcome now at the SSCS fundraisers in Australia
Issue #7. The faked shooting of Paul Watson
The shooting represents just another lie that does little for the credibility of SSCS. The organisation does not need to lie or be deceptive to sell its message. The public will support the cause of stopping whaling, however they will not support SSCS if they become aware of the many lies the organisation increasingly propagates through media.
What I am requesting:
The short time I have been associated with SSCS, and the sheer number of lies I’ve witnessed, makes me realise there is a large and increasing number of skeletons hidden in the SSCS closet. It is time for this closet to be closed (or opened fully) and for the organisation to move on.
I am asking that from now on, SSCS determine to act in an honest way with its volunteers including myself, with supporters and media. SSCS does not need to lie. Saving whales, dolphins, tuna and sharks are noble causes, and the public will embrace these as worthwhile. The story does not need to be manipulated and changed in order to get public support.
Secondly, volunteers like myself should be treated honestly and with respect. If an agreement is made with a volunteer, then it should be honoured. This process of agreeing to things, only to renege a month or two later is simply unacceptable for a volunteer organisation.
Since returning home I have been contacted by numerous volunteers all unhappy at how SSCS has treated them. The sheer number of complaints suggests that SSCS routinely treats Volunteers with contempt.
A good start would be to simply accept the bow and arrow story has been a debacle, and not comment on it any more. Do not mention the secret agreement with the Japanese Judges, nor my expulsion from SSCS. It is a sorry chapter in SSCS history that the organisation, and I, should move on from.
SSCS should commence honouring obligations agreed to. In my case, this includes
These are all simply items agreed to a couple of months ago. I am not asking for new favours – simply that you honour existing commitments. And that next year I can leave the organisation with dignity, rather than as a leper. And that SSCS starts treating other volunteers with the dignity they also deserve.
What I will do if SSCS agrees to a new honest approach with volunteers, supporters and media, and if it honours commitments made to me and others.
· I will only conduct reasonable tactics on campaign and as agreed with Paul or the officers of the Bob Barker (or other SSCS vessels I may be on)
What I will do if SSCS continues to act dishonestly.
SSCS has an obligation to act honestly with its volunteers who work for free, the public who are good enough to donate money, goods and services, and the media who assist in propagating the conservation message. Volunteers, the public and media however have a right to know the truth about the organisations they assist. So if SSCS continues to act dishonestly, then I will start working on ensuring this behaviour is made public. Following are a few possibilities
1: Media Stunt
We will hold a press conference in Brisbane before the SSCS fundraiser. I will have US$500,000 in cash, in public, and under guard at the press conference, which coincidentally, is also just outside where the SSCS fundraiser is held. Paul Watson will be offered US$500,000. The only catch is he must submit to a lie detector test, and his answer must show up as truthful. And the question will be “did you ask Chuck / Pete to sink the Ady Gil?”
Or we could make it $100,000 per question, and submit say five of them, ranging from the fake shooting, the bow and arrow, the deliberate scuttling, and the deal made with the Japanese Judges.
Note myself and Ady Gil crew will all take the lie detector tests before hand. Paul of course would never submit to the tests, and it will leave media and volunteers speculating as to why he would turn down half a million dollars for simply answering a few questions.
2. TV News Deal
3: Tell all book
4: Coordinated media campaign
5: Approach the board of SSCS
6: Assist in legal proceedings associated with the deliberate sinking
What happens from here
Or, SSCS can continue its current ways, and I will work for a period of twelve months to shed some light on what the upper management are really doing.
I have many weaknesses, but thankfully, a couple of strengths. One of the strengths is I am unafraid. I have no problem in going public and I will accept the consequences. In some respects I would prefer this. The deliberate scuttling of Ady Gil weighs heavily upon me, and I have sorely regretted ever agreeing with Paul and Chuck to do it. The trouble is it will sorely damage SSCS if this happens, and I still believe in the core work that SSCS does, and in the thousands of Volunteers and supporters who keep the organisation running.
It is tragic that my last few days have been spent working on this. I should be putting my energies into helping stop whaling, rather than having to address dishonesty amongst SSCS management. But sometimes we must make a stand. When I boarded the Shonan Maru #2, I did so on behalf of SSCS, but i was also standing up for what is right. This email involves a similar motivation. I believe the way volunteers, supporters, media and myself have been treated is dishonest, and it should stop. You simply do not need to behave in this manner. And maybe it is time someone made a stand.
I am willing to work with you on this. I also give you my word that if I commit to something with you, I will honor it. :)
As stated in an earlier posting, the entire situation is regrettable. Sea Shepherd did not wish to make a public drama of this, but we simply cannot abide Bethune’s betrayal, and in response to Bethune’s partial disclosure of events, we feel compelled to share the full story with the public.
Sea Shepherd would now prefer to move beyond this distraction and shift our focus onto what is truly important—preparation for this year’s Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign: Operation No Compromise.