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Re: The Pirate Bay plans to buy island

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: The Pirate Bay plans to buy island
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 15:49:07 +0100

Freedom and all that... great new home for Eben and the entire GNU gang.

About Sealand 

Sealand was founded as a sovereign Principality in 1967 in international
waters, six miles off the eastern shores of Britain. In late June of
2006, the island suffered a devastating fire which destroyed much of the
country's administrative centre and the main power generation facility
which serves its population and industries. Fortunately, back-up systems
exist which permit its activities to continue but the disaster has
compromised significantly the quality of life of its inhabitants and the
continued development of the island's economic and social growth. 

The history of Sealand is a story of a struggle for liberty. Sealand was
founded on the principle that any group of people dissatisfied with the
oppressive laws and restrictions of existing nation states may declare
independence in any place not claimed to be under the jurisdiction of
another sovereign entity. The location chosen was Roughs Tower, an
island fortress created in World War II by Britain and subsequently
abandoned to the jurisdiction of the High Seas. The independence of
Sealand was upheld in a 1968 British court decision where the judge held
that Roughs Tower stood in international waters and did not fall under
the legal jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. This gave birth to
Sealand's national motto of E Mare Libertas, or "From the Sea, Freedom". 

The official language of Sealand is English and the Sealand Dollar has a
fixed exchange rate of one U.S. dollar. Passports and stamps have been
in circulation since 1969 and the latter decade of the 20th century saw
an impressive expansion in its activity both socially and industrially
as it began to develop a growing economic base which underscored its
long-standing membership of the international community of States. 

History Of Sealand 

During World War II, the United Kingdom decided to establish a number of
military bases, the purpose of which was to defend England against
German air raids. These sea forts housed enough troops to man and
maintain artillery designed to shoot down German aircraft and missiles.
They were situated along the east coast of England on the edge of the
English territorial waters. 

One of these bases, consisting of concrete and steel construction, was
the famous royal fort Roughs Tower situated slightly north of the
estuary region of the Thames River. In contrast to the original plan to
locate the tower within the sovereign territory of England, this
fortress was situated at a distance of approximately 7 nautical miles
from the coast, which is more than double the then applicable 3 mile
range of territorial waters; to put it briefly, this island was situated
in the international waters of the North Sea. 

After WWII ended, the troops were withdrawn from all bases by the
British Admiralty. None of them was ever used by the United Kingdom
again, leaving the forts deserted and abandoned. Except for the
aforementioned fortress, the bases were subsequently pulled down. This
resulted in the portentous uniqueness of the fortress. Fort Roughs
Tower, situated at the high seas, had been deserted and abandoned, res
derelicta and terra nullius. From a legal point of view, it therefore
constituted extra-national territory. 

The Birth of Sealand 

This paved the way for occupation. On 2 September 1967, former English
major Paddy Roy Bates formally occupied the island and settled there
with his family. After intensive discussions with skillful English
lawyers, Roy Bates proclaimed the island his own state. Claiming jus
gentium, he bestowed upon himself the title of Prince and the title of
Princess to his wife and subsequently made the state the Principality of
Sealand. Roy Bates, henceforth Roy of Sealand, exerted state authority
on the island and thus was an absolute sovereign. The royal family and
other persons that have declared loyalty to Sealand have occupied
Sealand ever since. 

Initial Challenge to Sealand's Sovereignty 

By late 1968, the British navy had become aware of the new situation off
the coast of England. They were interested in terminating the state of
affairs brought about by an error committed by the most senior military
authorities without causing too much uproar. 

Units of the navy entered the territorial waters claimed by Roy of
Sealand. As he was aware of his sovereignty, Roy of Sealand threatened
the navy by undertaking defensive activity. Shots were fired from
Sealand in warning. 

Since Roy of Sealand was still an English citizen, he was thus accused
of extensive crimes in Britain and was summoned to an English court. The
result of this lawsuit in Chelmsford, Essex was a spectacular success
for Sealand's claim to sovereignty. In its judgment of 25 November 1968,
the court declared that it was not competent in Roy of Sealand's case as
it could not exert any jurisdiction outside of British national
territory. This is the first de facto recognition of the Principality of
Sealand. English law had ruled that Sealand was not part of the United
Kingdom, nor did any other nation claim it, hence Prince Roy's
declaration of a new Sovereign State was de facto upheld. 

Building a New Nation 

Seven years later on 25 September 1975, Roy of Sealand proclaimed the
Constitution of the Principality. Over time, other national treasures
were developed, such as the flag of the Principality of Sealand, its
national anthem, stamps, as well as gold and silver coins launched as
Sealand Dollars. Finally, passports of the Principality of Sealand were
issued to those who had helped Sealand in some way, though they were
never for sale. 

Sealand Fights Off Invaders (and Wins a War) 

In August of 1978, a number of Dutch men came to Sealand in the employ
of a German businessman. They were there to discuss business dealings
with Sealand. While Roy was away in Britain, these men kidnapped Prince
Roy's son Michael, and took Sealand by force. Soon after, Roy recaptured
the island with a group of his own men and held the attackers as
prisoners of war. 

During the time that he held the prisoners, the Governments of the
Netherlands and Germany petitioned for their release. First they asked
England to intervene in the matter, but the British government cited
their earlier court decision as evidence that they made no claim to the
territory of Sealand. Then, in an act of de facto recognition of
Sealand's sovereignty, Germany sent a diplomat directly to Sealand to
negotiate for the release of their citizen. 

Roy first released the Dutch citizens, as the war was over, and the
Geneva Convention requires the release of all prisoners. The German was
held longer, as he had accepted a Sealand Passport, and therefore was
guilty of treason. Prince Roy, who was grateful that the incident had
not resulted in a loss of life, and did not want to bloody the
reputation of Sealand, eventually released him as well. 

Extension of Territorial Waters 

On 1 October, 1987, Britain extended its territorial waters from 3 to 12
nautical miles. The previous day, Prince Roy declared the extension of
Sealand's territorial waters to be a like 12 nautical miles, so that
right of way from the open sea to Sealand would not be blocked by
British claimed waters. No treaty has been signed between Britain and
Sealand to divide up the overlapping areas, but a general policy of
dividing the area between the two countries down the middle can be
assumed. International law does not allow the claim of new land during
the extension of sea rights, so Sealand's sovereignty was safely
"grandfathered" in. Britain has no more right to Sealand's territory
than Sealand has to the territory of the British coastline that falls
within its claimed 12 nautical mile arc. 

Some nations might have tried to use this as an excuse to try to claim
all of the territory of the weaker and not well recognized nation
regardless of international law, however, this has not been the case.
Britain has made no attempt to take Sealand, and the British government
still treats it as an independent State. Prince Roy continues to pay no
British National Insurance during the time he resides on Sealand
subsequent to a ruling by the British Department of Health and Social
Security's solicitor's branch. Also, there was another fire arms
incident in 1990 when a ship strayed too near Sealand and warning shots
were again fired. The ship's crew made complaints to British authorities
and a newspaper article ran detailing the incident. Yet despite
Britain's severe prohibition of firearms, British authorities have never
pursued the matter. This is a clear indication that Britain's Home
Office still considers Sealand to be outside their zone of control. 

Fake Sealand Passports 

In 1997, forged Sealand passports started tuning up around the world.
Some of these were used to open bank accounts under false names in
various countries. Since few people have ever seen a legitimate Sealand
passport (less than 300 exist today) it was difficult for these to be
easily detected as forgeries. The source of these forgeries was traced
back to the same German man who was involved in the earlier attempt to
take Sealand by force. Dubbing himself Minister of Finance, he had
created a fake Sealand Business Foundation and boasts that he has sold
over 150 000 fake Sealand Passports to all comers. Thus there are now
unfortunately 500 times more forged Sealand Passports in circulation
than real ones. Many of the forged passports were apparently sold to
people leaving Hong Kong at the time of Chinese reoccupation for USD 1
000 each. 

Current Views of the Principality of Sealand 

The current government of the Principality of Sealand considers itself
to be sovereign, and to have been recognized de facto as such on the
basis of the aforementioned statements by multiple world governments. It
states the following: 

"The Principality of Sealand recognizes jus gentium and has undertaken
to regulate any activity with a view to compliance with jus gentium and
international law or to have it regulated." 

The existence of the Principality as an independent State and the de
facto recognition of its sovereignty has been demonstrated time and time
again over the last three decades by European and other States and in
particular by its nearest neighbour, the United Kingdom. Britain has
stated clearly and has demonstrated on a number of occasions either that
it has no jurisdiction within Principality territorial limits or that it
has no interest in events that have taken place within the Principality. 

Moreover, a number of independent legal experts have weighed carefully
all arguments for and against Sealand sovereignty and unanimously have
agreed that jus gentium applies as a basic principle underpinning the
independence of the Principality. This position is further supported by
de facto events which demonstrate that reality. On many occasions, other
States have either left Sealand alone to deal internationally with
matters critical to its National interest, or have recognised Sealand as
the legal and administrative authority over all activities within its
territorial limits. 

Even today, the United Kingdom government recognises, inter alia,
residency or work in Sealand as an overseas activity. 

The Internet Comes to Sealand 

Whilst Sealand has been the pride and joy of Prince Roy and his family
for well over 30 years, his recent poor health has caused him
fundamentally to review the arrangements which have been in place for
decades and to look to the future of his Principality. Consequently, his
son Prince Michael was appointed Prince Regent as Sovereign pro tempore
by Royal Decree in 1999. 

Since that time, the Royal Family has struck a deal with HavenCo
Limited, and that company now leases exclusively its offices and
operations centres in Sealand, where it offers, and is able to offer,
unparalleled security and independence to users who wish to take
advantage of its Internet colocation services. 

The presence of an active and rapidly growing high-tech internet
industry in Sealand has changed the character of the Principality; once
more, Sealand rings with the sound of voices, boasts regular support
ferry services, and is host to a growing and dynamic population. 


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