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American Bitcoin investor posts 'proof' that micro-nation home he built in sea is not in Thai territory as he hides from police after being warned he could face the death penalty

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 19/04/2019 Chris Pleasance and Chris Dyere

An American Bitcoin investor threatened with the death penalty by Thai authorities after he built a micro-nation home near one of their islands insists he has proof that the house was never inside their jurisdiction.

a group of people sitting at a table: Chad Elwartowski, pictured with girlfriend Supranee Thepdet, claims to have proof that his 'seastead' home was outside Thai territorial waters after the country raided the property threatened him with the death penalty © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Chad Elwartowski, pictured with girlfriend Supranee Thepdet, claims to have proof that his 'seastead' home was outside Thai territorial waters after the country raided the property threatened him with the death penalty Chad Elwartowski, who has been in hiding with girlfriend Supranee Thepdet since the Thai Navy raided their home last week, claims a researcher's phone kept at his home shows it was 14 nautical miles from the nearest island.

Since a country can only claim territorial waters extending up to 12 nautical miles from its shoreline, this would mean Mr Elwartowski was not subject to Thai laws.

a screenshot of a cell phone: He says a GPS beacon placed on his home by a researcher recorded the coordinates where it was located, and Google's mapping feature shows it was 14 nautical miles from a Thai island - two miles outside the country's territorial waters © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited He says a GPS beacon placed on his home by a researcher recorded the coordinates where it was located, and Google's mapping feature shows it was 14 nautical miles from a Thai island - two miles outside the country's territorial waters

Countries can claim a 'contiguous zone' from between 12 and 24 nautical miles from shore, which allows it to apply a limited number of laws.

However, these can only be to prevent or punish 'infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea.'

Mr Elwartowski claims he 'did not do anything on the seastead that was not legal on land', raising doubts over whether these laws would apply to him.

Mr Elwartowski hit back at Thai authorities over Facebook, using evidence gathered by a researcher named Daniel A. Nagy.

a person sitting on a boat in the water: Mr Elwartowski and Miss Thepdet have been in hiding since Thai authorities raided their home on Saturday, saying they fear for their lives © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mr Elwartowski and Miss Thepdet have been in hiding since Thai authorities raided their home on Saturday, saying they fear for their lives In a post on the Ocean Builders website, which supports the 'seastead' movement, Mr Nagy posted coordinates captured by a GPS logging device - an Android phone in a watertight container - that was placed at Mr Elwartowski's home.

Using Google's distance measuring tool, Mr Nagy claims to show that the seastead was 14 miles from Ko Racha Yai, which is the nearest Thai island.

'This places it inside Thailand’s Contiguous Zone, but outside of its territorial waters,' he writes.

Mr Nagy also reveals that a tracker was placed on the seastead so that it would show up as a stationary tanker on shipping maps, avoiding collisions with other boats. 

a small boat in a body of water: The Thai navy claims their 'seastead' is 12 nautical miles from the shore but Elwartowski said it was 14 miles and so in international waters © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Thai navy claims their 'seastead' is 12 nautical miles from the shore but Elwartowski said it was 14 miles and so in international waters Thailand previously argued that the 'seastead' posed a risk to shipping traffic since it could have broken loose and drifted into a shipping lane.  

Thailand's navy accused him of violating the country's sovereignty, but Elwartowski insisted the floating 'living platform' in the Andaman Sea know as a 'seastead' was simply in pursuit of a vision of 'freedom'.  

The couple allegedly built the platform in international waters with the intent of setting up a permanent outpost outside any state territories. 

The structure was said to fall under the jurisdiction of no government but still inside Thailand's exclusive economic zone, local media reported. 

a man standing on top of a sandy beach: 'Seasteaders' Bitcoin Girl Thailand and Chad Elwartowski enjoying the golden beaches of Thailand. The kingdom has accused the coupe of violating its sovereignty © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 'Seasteaders' Bitcoin Girl Thailand and Chad Elwartowski enjoying the golden beaches of Thailand. The kingdom has accused the coupe of violating its sovereignty

Crypto traders are said to be leading the charge to 'establish micronations', outside known territorial borders by exploiting a loophole in international law. 

'Seasteads' are permanent dwellings at sea outside the territory claimed by any government and comes from homesteading - to lead a self-sufficient lifestyle - and is a popular dream for many libertarians.

It is thought Elwartowski, who was part of the first group to adopt Bitcoin and made his money trading crypo-currencies, paid $150,000 for the seastead.

Chad Elwartowski and 'Nadia' Supranee Thepdet posted pictures online of them sipping Champagne on their 'floating platform' off the coast of Phuket island, southern Thailand © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Chad Elwartowski and 'Nadia' Supranee Thepdet posted pictures online of them sipping Champagne on their 'floating platform' off the coast of Phuket island, southern Thailand An official complaint was filed to a Phuket police station, colonel Nikorn Somsuk confirmed today. 

Police colonel Nikorn said: 'The navy and its team found a concrete tank floating on the sea but there was no one on it. So they filed a charge citing criminal code article 119.'

a man and a woman smiling for the camera: Chad Elwartowski and girlfriend Supranee Thepdet © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Chad Elwartowski and girlfriend Supranee Thepdet If they are officially charged and found guilty, the maximum sentence Elwartowski and Thepdet could face is the death penalty.

On Instagram Thepdet, who also goes by Nadia Summergirl, posted pictures of the couple on Thai beaches, drinking Champagne, riding on boats, and lounging on their small sea-based platform.  

a group of people sitting on a bench: Thai navy officers inspecting a 'seastead' - a floating 'living platform' in the Andaman Sea - some 12 nautical miles off the coast of Phuket island, southern Thailand, last week © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Thai navy officers inspecting a 'seastead' - a floating 'living platform' in the Andaman Sea - some 12 nautical miles off the coast of Phuket island, southern Thailand, last week

She also posted on her page, which has five Bitcoins in her profile, memes about how 'seasteading' was a dream come true. 

Nikorn said the navy would have to meet with provincial officials 'to consider what to do next'.

a person standing next to a body of water: Supranee Thepdet posted a series of pictures on Instagram of the couple enjoying the Thai sunshine © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Supranee Thepdet posted a series of pictures on Instagram of the couple enjoying the Thai sunshine The Royal Thai Navy said on Facebook the couple 'did not seek permission from Thailand' before constructing their home.

Putting a call out to other interested investors also shows 'they do not care about Thailand as a sovereign state'.

But Elwartowski, who worked as a software engineer for the US military in Afghanistan, Germany and South Korea, added he and Thepdet just wanted to live somewhere free.

Supranee Thepdet posing near a boat © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Supranee Thepdet posing near a boat He added: 'I like the idea of being able to vote with your home. If you don't like how your community is being run, you just float to a new one.'

The couple now say they are on the run as the military in Thailand 'wants them dead'.  

a group of people in a boat on a body of water: The couple allegedly built the platform in international waters with the intent to set up a permanent outpost out of any state territories © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The couple allegedly built the platform in international waters with the intent to set up a permanent outpost out of any state territories

Elwartowski told ABC 7 News: 'The Thai military wants us dead. The way things work here in Thailand is that they set the narrative in their media then execute it. 

'The narrative is that we are a threat to national security and we face life in prison or death. They did not want us to survive to get our side out.' 

a man standing next to a body of water: Supranee Thepdet documented the couple's quest to build a home out at sea © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Supranee Thepdet documented the couple's quest to build a home out at sea According to the Bangkok Post, the Marine Department intends to remove the seastead from the water as it will hinder ship navigation. 

The Bitcoin-rich couple are part of Ocean Builders, a community of entrepreneurs who aim to build permanent homes in waters outside of government territory.

They had recently called for 20 interested investors for new seasteads to be built around their maiden platform, which is 'just outside of Thailand's territorial waters', said Elwartowski.

On April 10, he put out a call for people to invest in an 'Initial Seastead Offering' which would have launched on April 15.

a person sitting next to a body of water: Supranee Thepdet and her boyfriend Chad Elwartowski are facing charges that could be punishable by death over their alleged bid to build their own 'micronation' © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Supranee Thepdet and her boyfriend Chad Elwartowski are facing charges that could be punishable by death over their alleged bid to build their own 'micronation' The 'ISeaO' is now postponed, and Elwartowski said he and Thepdet, whose English name is Nadia, just want to live together in peace.

'We didn't do anything on the seastead that was not legal on land but the feeling of being free is just amazing.'

a boat on a body of water: Thepdet and her boyfriend are facing the death penalty over their alleged bid to launch their own 'micronation' off the coast of Thailand © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Thepdet and her boyfriend are facing the death penalty over their alleged bid to launch their own 'micronation' off the coast of Thailand Some advocates of 'seasteading' believe in creating 'competing governments on the high seas', he said.

But Ocean Builders 'never took a political stance' on the homes' purpose, he said, adding, 'that was for the customers to decide'.

The couple are now said to be hiding in 'a fairly safe place'.

A statement published on Monday posted on Ocean Builders' website said Elwartowski and Thepdet were not responsible for construction of the seastead. 

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