Star of anti-dolphin killing film The Cove held by Japanese immigration

Ric OBarry seen in documentary about slaughter in a Japanese village says government is waging a war on dolphins

The star of Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, about the killing of dolphins in a village in Japan, has been detained by immigration authorities at Tokyos Narita international airport.

Ric OBarry an American known for training the dolphins used in the TV series Flipper said immigration officials told him he could not enter Japan on a tourist visa because he was not a tourist, according to his lawyer, Takashi Takano.

Takano said officials accused OBarry of having close ties with the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, which OBarry denies. Immigration officials said it was their policy not to comment on individual cases.

Takano said he was appealing against the detention, and that the Japanese government would decide on whether to allow OBarry into the country or deport him. It was not clear when a decision would be made.

The Cove, which won the 2009 Academy Award for best documentary, shows the slaughter of dolphins herded into a cove in the fishing village of Taiji and bludgeoned to death.

The Japanese government is cracking down on those who oppose their war on dolphins, OBarry said in a statement sent to the Associated Press through his son, Lincoln OBarry.

Officials in Taiji, a small fishing village in central Japan, and fishermen have defended the hunt as a tradition, saying that eating dolphin meat is no different to eating beef or chicken.

Most Japanese have never eaten dolphin meat. Many say they are horrified by the dolphin killing and there is a campaign against the Taiji hunt. Animal welfare activists say the hunt is driven mostly by the lucrative sale of dolphins to aquariums, with the income from the sale of meat simply an added extra.

OBarry has been stopped and questioned by Japanese immigration before. He has also been taken into custody by local police on the suspicion of not having proper travel documents before being released. But this is the first time he has been detained in this way. He has the support of high-profile celebrities, including Sting, the US ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, and the former Guns N Roses drummer, Matt Sorum.


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