Bitcoin trader’s ‘seastead’ home towed by Thai navy

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The Thai navy has begun towing the home of a fugitive American seasteader back to shore as its owner faces a possible death sentence.

Chad Elwartowski and Supranee Thepdet lived in the structure, known as a seastead, 15 miles from the Thai coast, in order to avoid the jurisdiction of Thai law.

Thai authorities have revoked the visa of Mr Elwartowski, a bitcoin trader, and charged both of them with violating Thai sovereignty, punishable by the death penalty or life in prison.

Bitcoin trader's 'seastead' home towed by Thai navy
A Thai navy ship drags a floating home off Phuket Island

Rear Admiral Vithanarat Kochaseni said: “The couple announced on social media declaring their autonomy beyond the jurisdiction of any courts or law of any countries, including Thailand.

“We see such action as deteriorating Thailand’s independence.”

The couple touted their seastead as a milestone in the movement to build floating communities in international waters, to explore alternative societies and governments.

Bitcoin trader's 'seastead' home towed by Thai navy
Supranee Thepdet and Chad Elwartowski

The Thai navy sent three boats on Monday to dismantle the structure and bring it back to land as evidence.

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HTMS Mannai, a landing craft utility ship, was expected to return to Phuket with the 6m (20ft) wide cabin late on Monday.

The couple left the home last week having been tipped off about the authorities.

Mr Elwartowski said in a statement: “This is ridiculous… we lived on a floating house boat for a few weeks and now Thailand wants us killed.

“We are still quite scared for our lives.

Bitcoin trader's 'seastead' home towed by Thai navy
Chad Elwartowski’s floating home. Pic: Thai navy

“We seriously did not think we were doing anything wrong and thought this would be a huge benefit for Thailand in so many ways.

“I believe my lawyer can come to an amicable agreement with the Thai government.”

The whereabouts of Mr Elwartowski and Ms Thepdet, also known as Nadia Summergirl, are unknown but authorities believe they are in Thailand.

Bitcoin trader's 'seastead' home towed by Thai navy
The structure before it was erected. Pic: Facebook/Chad Elwartowski

Mr Elwartowski is said to be referring requests for comment to Ocean Builders, who funded and built the hexagonal cabin, and to the Seasteading Institute.

Ocean Builders say the cabin was in international waters and beyond Thailand’s jurisdiction.

Thai authorities say the structure is within a 200-mile exclusive economic zone and a violation of sovereignty.

Joe Quirk, president of the Seasteading Institute, said: “They proved a single-family seastead can float stably in international waters for less than the cost of the average American home.

“You can demolish the seastead, but you can’t demolish the knowledge that was gained.”