DUBAI, March 26: A man claiming to be the ambassador of a self-proclaimed state in Australia has appeared in a Dubai court charged with fraud, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The unnamed 48-year-old Iranian insisted on Tuesday he should be treated as a diplomat, claiming he was the ambassador of the so-called Principality of Hutt River, in Western Australia, English-language daily 7Days said.

He, a 28-year-old Pakistani and a 36-year-old French woman, are facing charges connected with issuing false passports and attempting to sell land to residents of the UAE under false pretences.

“I am an ambassador and I have been in jail for 70 days although I am a diplomat,” he was quoted as telling the judges.

When asked to explain why his name was not on a list of foreign diplomats in the country, he claimed his state was trying to open an embassy in Dubai and had just recently started the registration process.

The three were released on bail and their trial adjourned until an undisclosed date.

The “principality” is located on 75 square kilometres (29 square miles) of land, 595 kilometres (369 miles) north of Perth, according to its website.

It claims to have seceded from Australia on April 21, 1970 but is not recognised by it or any international entity.—AFP

Updated Mar 27, 2008 12:00am

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