News & Opinion | April 22, 2019 10:49 am

Ocean-Living American Bitcoin Trader Faces Death Penalty in Thailand

Chad Elwartowski and his girlfriend's whereabouts are currently unknown

The Thai Navy dismantled the home
The Thai Navy dismantled the seasteading home as evidence. (Xinhua/ via Getty)
Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images
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Thailand’s navy towed the illegally floating cabin belonging to an American bitcoin trader and his Thai girlfriend on Monday — both prominent members of the “seasteading” movement who face possible death sentences for setting up their offshore home.

The cabin, set up 14 miles off the Thai island of Phuket, was touted by those in the alternative-living community as a milestone for their movement to build floating communities in international waters as a way to explore alternative societies and governments, Reuters reported.

Thai authorities have since revoked the visa of American bitcoin trader Chad Elwartowski, 46, and have charged him and his partner, Supranee Thepdet, with violating Thai sovereignty  a crime punishable by death or life in prison.

“The couple announced on social media declaring their autonomy beyond the jurisdiction of any courts or law of any countries, including Thailand,” Rear Admiral Vithanarat Kochaseni told reporters, adding they had invited others to join them. “We see such action as deteriorating Thailand’s independence,” he said.

Elwartowski and Supranee lived in the cabin for two months but left if before it was raided by the Thai navy on April 13. Their whereabouts are currently unknown but local authorities believe the couple is somewhere in Thailand.