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Sealand/Felixstowe: Could Sealand be a safe haven for Assange’s WikiLeaks?

PUBLISHED: 11:15 04 October 2012

Sealand

Sealand

Archant

IT claims to hold the most sensitive secrets of governments around the globe.

And now the classified information unearthed by the notorious WikiLeaks organisations could be shared with the world off the Felixstowe coast.

The royal family of Sealand, the independent mini-state based on an old war-time fort, has been in contact with Julian Assange’s representatives about moving its internet servers to the micro-nation.

WikiLeaks believes using the location – situated seven miles off the Suffolk coast – would give it immunity from prosecution.

Prince Michael Bates admitted there had been contact with Assange’s organisation but would not divulge the details – or whether Sealand had entered into an agreement to help.

The Sealand story

1942: Roughs Tower built, right.

1967: Kingdom of Sealand declared

1968: Flag, currency, stamps and passports issued

1969: British Government offers £5,000 for fort so it can be demolished – Major Roy Bates, below, stays put.

1975: Constitution for Sealand signed.

1978: Germans and Dutch raiders seize fort but Bates family and friends recapture it in surprise dawn helicopter attack.

1990: Mini-state at centre of court case after shooting incident.

1998: Fears that forged Sealand passports used for money laundering

2000: Sealand at centre of global terrorist investigation.

2002: Mini-state becomes the base for an offshore internet company.

2006: Tenancy put up for sale, offering people chance to run their own island.

2010: Principality is taken off the market.

2011: Prince Michael signs deal with literary agent to write story of Sealand.

“There has been contact but we cannot really talk about it,” said Prince Michael, who is based in Essex but lives part of the year on the 932 sq yd North Sea structure.

“Any such dealings would be a private business arrangement and all our dealings with our clients are confidential.”

American TV network Fox News reported earlier this year that sources within the hacker community had said Assange’s financial backers had been working behind the scenes on the logistics of moving the servers to international waters.

The organisation’s servers are currently based in several locations including Sweden and Iceland.

Sealand celebrates its 46th anniversary as a micro-nation this year – even though Britain still doesn’t recognise it as an independent state.

The 4,500-ton twin-towered structure – which on clear days can be seen from Felixstowe prom – cost £1million to build and contains seven storeys of living quarters for 150 people.

Wealthy businessman Major Roy Bates, a former 8th Army Royal Fusiliers major, took over the fort with a vision of creating his own country, and made his wife Joan a princess.

The country has its own constitution, passports, flag, stamps, and even coins featuring the head of former beauty queen Princess Joan. It even has its own football team – though they never play at home because, as Prince Michael says, losing the ball into the sea would be a constant annoyance.

Over the years there have been battles and skirmishes with groups who tried to take it for themselves but today it survives peacefully, used as a haven for offshore internet servers.

No one from WikiLeaks replied to The Star’s request for a comment.

A Felixstowe man brandished a pruning saw during a late night fight with neighbours at a block of flats in the town, a court has heard.

Forecasters are predicting a cold start to the beginning of March as temperatures struggle to rise above freezing.

A Suffolk girl who braved the North Sea for the hospice that cared for her great-grandmother has been named Ipswich Town FC’s “Community Champion”.

An Ipswich care provider which helps support people with complex needs in their homes has been given an ‘inadequate’ rating by a health watchdog after a catalogue of issues were found.

A much-loved free music event is returning to a Suffolk resort this summer after a two-year absence – and organisers hope it will raise a big sum for charity.

Traffic heading in and out of Ipswich along Wherstead Road has been plunged into chaos as Anglian Water engineers moved in to replace the cover of an underground tap.

Pin Mill is a popular destination for sailors, walkers, artists, photographers and those visiting the centuries old Butt and Oyster public house.

Top development projects in Suffolk and Essex are set to go head-to-head at an annual regional awards ceremony, which will be held in Bury St Edmunds.

Police have launched a search for a 13-year-old girl from Bradford who went missing while visiting family in peterborough.

This year’s High Sheriff Awards have been presented to a selection of Suffolk’s most devoted charitable individuals and organisations.

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