07 December 2011

Whaling protest's helicopter pilot denied Australia visa

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Environmental activist group Sea Shepherd have had their efforts to protest against whaling fleets impeded by the Australian government, who have denied their helicopter pilot's Australia visa application.

Australia visa

A Sea Shepherd helicopter pilot has had his Australian visa application denied by the Australian government.

Chris Aultman, a former US Marine, aids Sea Shepherd by piloting a helicopter which can find whaling fleets for the group to protest. However, he won't be able to join the activists in their latest campaign, due to being denied an Australia visa.

Speaking on the situation, Mr Aultman said that while he had been able to enter Australia on an ETA visa with no issues for the past six years, on this occassion his application was placed on hold and subsequently denied.

"I have not received any information about why it was denied or when it will be issued," he said. "I wish I knew."

Mr Aultman is a 38-year-old Gulf War veteran, and his efforts have been key to Sea Shepherd finding whaling fleets, with his skills as a helicopter pilot also helping them in filming aerial footage that has been used in the 'Whale Wars' documentaries.

The incident isn't the first time that the Australian government has stepped in to deny members of Sea Shepherd access to the country. Two years ago, both Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson and his first officer Peter Hammarstedt were denied an Australian visa until a petition and intervention from Greens leader Bob Brown and former environment minister Ian Campbell forced the government's hand.

Speaking on Mr Aultman's situation, Paul Watson said: "Now it appears that Australia is seeking to keep the Sea Shepherd helicopter grounded by denying a visa to our veteran pilot."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy London.

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