US Embassy helps citizen threatened with death penalty over ‘seastead’ off Phuket
The United States Embassy in Bangkok is providing assistance to its citizen who was accused of violating Thailand’s sovereignty by building a “seasteading” structure off the coast of Phuket.
The US Embassy is aware of the reports that Thai authorities have charged US citizen Chad Elwartowski, said Robert Post, US Embassy Public Affairs Officer, on Friday.
“The Embassy is providing all appropriate assistance and understands Elwartowski has engaged an attorney,” Post told The Nation.
Elwartowski and his Thai girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet (aka Nadia Summergirl), launched their seastead project on February 2 off the coast of Phuket.
The floating structure is located to the southeast of Koh Racha Yai, approximately 12 nautical miles from the mainland.
The couple are facing charges of threatening the Kingdom’s independence after the Royal Thai Navy and Phuket Maritime personnel boarded the structure on Sunday and said that it violated criminal law and posed a navigational hazard.
Meanwhile, Phuket deputy governor Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai was preparing information to present to the embassy if it required a further explanation.
While Elwartowski has claimed that his waterborne homestead is outside Thailand’s maritime boundaries, Thai authorities have insisted that its existence violated Article 119 of the Criminal Code because Thailand’s territorial rights were disturbed.
According to the Siam Legal international law firm, “Section 119: Intent to cause injury to the nation” states that, “Whoever does any act with intent to cause the country or any part thereof to descend under the sovereignty of any foreign state, or to deteriorate the independence of the state, shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life.”
Authorities were eligible to persecute the group of people as the structure was within the Kingdom’s territory, Supoj said.
“The harm was done because they had sent an invitation seeking people to set up [additional] structures and so far 14 people [have shown an] interest to join,” he explained.