Sealand -- too good to be true

A Spaniard is arrested for selling passports to a make-believe principality.

By J.A. Getzlaff
Published April 17, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Psst, wanna buy a Principality of Sealand passport? If you're a criminal and you're not very bright, you probably do, don't you? Well, too bad, because Sealand doesn't exist, and the head of its "consulate" just got arrested.

Francisco Trujillo Ruiz was arrested in Madrid recently for allegedly selling passports to his imaginary principality to common criminals. According to a Reuters report, Ruiz was posing as consul for the Sealand Consulate in central Madrid.

How did a government that doesn't exist get its own consulate? Good question. Ruiz must be quite a talker, because the Sealand Consulate not only sold passports but also owned two "government" cars with diplomatic license plates -- which, on important occasions, received escort by Spanish police.

According to the consulate's "official" Web site, Sealand was founded in the 1970s by Briton Paddy Roy Bates, is located on an old military platform in the Thames estuary, has its own flag and issues passports to those in need of alternative citizenship. What's more, it follows international law, too.

J.A. Getzlaff

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