Tokyo, Feb 5 (IANS) An American dolphin activist, who was denied entry into Japan by the country’s authorities, was deported on Friday after being detained for 19 days.
Ric O’Barry trained the dolphins on the popular TV series “Flipper” (1964-67) before becoming an activist to protect the cetaceans and was also the star of the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary “The Cove” which narrates the annual dolphin hunt in the town of Taiji, in the Wakayama prefecture.
Immigration authorities claimed that 76-year-old O’Barry was deported as he failed to inform them of his travel plan during his last visit to Japan in August 2015, when he went to Taiji to protest against the dolphin hunt, a family member told EFE news.
“It is ironic they are deporting me to keep me quiet, when they themselves have brought more attention to the dolphin slaughter than ‘The Cove’ movie. It breaks my heart to be deported from a country I have grown to love,” O’Barry said in a statement.
His lawyer Takashi Takano condemned the activist’s detention and deportation, calling the explanation “very obscure”, and defended his client for having tried to enter the country on a tourist visa as tourism “also includes activities such as visits to places of disasters or holocaust.”
He added O’Barry’s reports on dolphin hunting must be considered a legitimate tourist activity, adding the activist had lost 10 kg and suffered a minor chest problem during the detention.