Czech leader of self-proclaimed Liberland held in Croatia

Czech politician and self-professed president of Liberland arrested for trespassing in Croatia

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Authorities in Croatia have arrested 31-year-old Czech Republic citizen Vit Jedlicka for trespassing on no-man’s land after he declared the independence of Liberland along the Serbian-Croatian border.

The self-proclaimed state of Liberland, dubbed the newest country in the world, was established in April on a seven-kilometre patch of land which hadn’t been claimed by either Serbia or Croatia because of a decades-long border dispute between the two countries.

Vít Jedlickai, a Czech politician for the Conservative Party of Free Citizens, announced the founding of the state along with seven citizens on an official website.

Claiming the state’s establishment is not against international law, Jedlickai invited people to apply for citizenship promising personal and economic freedom, which left many countries fearing the micronation could be used as a tax haven.

Liberland already has its own flag, constitution and law as well official languages of Czech and English, and is in the process of seeking recognition from other countries.

According to Jedlickai, around a quarter of a million people have already applied for citizenship, while financiers have pledged support in setting up state institutions.

Jedlickai, however, was arrested on Saturday along with Liberland’s “founding fathers” as they tried to enter the enclave on foot. The group was later escorted to a jail in the eastern Croatian town of Beli Manastir, the so called Liberland Press Agency reported to Fox News.

“The president of the self-proclaimed micronation of the Free Republic of Liberland, Vít Jedlickai, has been arrested by Croatian police for illegally trespassing an international border,” an email sent by the Liberland Press Agency read.

“The arrest may have taken place on no man's land territory. This would raise issues on the Croatian-Serbian border and could start a new crisis in the Balkans.”

Czech news agency CTK later reported Jedlicka was released on Sunday as a judge decides upon the status of Liberland.

“[The judge] could not make a decision in the case, since we did not cross any border, we were waiting for the Croatian police at the Liberland border,” Jedlicka told CTK.

Liberland is not the first self-proclaimed state in history. In 1967 a country named The Principality of Sealand was proclaimed in international waters, six miles off the eastern coast of Britain, by a man named Paddy Roy Bates.

In 2014, an American citizen Jeremiah Heaton claimed to have founded a kingdom along the terra nullius area between Egypt and Sudan and named the self-proclaimed state the “Kingdom of North Sudan,” in order to fulfill his six-year-old daughter’s wish to be a princess.

TRTWorld and agencies