Couple in Hiding After Floating Home Is Raided

'We just want to live,' says Chad Elwartowski
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2019 9:43 AM CDT
Couple in Hiding After Floating Home Is Raided
This Saturday, April 13, 2019, photo provided by Royal Thai Navy, shows a floating home lived in by an American man and his Thai partner in the Andaman Sea, off Phuket island, Thailand.   (Royal Thai Navy via AP)

A US man and his girlfriend wanted to be "seasteading" pioneers. Instead they're now in hiding and could face the death penalty. At issue is a floating home they occupied on a 65-foot platform that sits roughly 12 nautical miles off of Phuket, Thailand, in the Andaman Sea. Or maybe 13. Chad Elwartowski says it's the latter distance, which would put it in international waters and beyond Thailand's jurisdiction—and beyond the jurisdiction and laws of any country. Thailand says the two may have violated national sovereignty, a charge than can carry a sentence of life imprisonment or death. Authorities raided the sea home and "found a concrete tank floating on the sea but there was no-one on it," a police official tells the BBC.

The AP has an email from Elwartowski sent Thursday in which he maintains their innocence and says the two are in hiding "in a fairly safe place." Elwartowski is described as a software engineer-turned-Bitcoin investor who belongs to the Ocean Builders group of entrepreneurs who are backing such homes. The group says Elwartowski wasn't actually the builder of the sea home erected in February—one that only caught the attention of officials this week—but that he merely occupied it for a few weeks. The Guardian flags a Facebook post by Elwartowski echoing that statement: "The person(s) who funded the seastead are concerned about losing the seastead but Nadia and I were just tenants. But as long as Nadia and I are able to live through this that is all that matters to us right now. We just want to live."

(More Thailand stories.)

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