Thai Government To Close Down An Early Bitcoiner’s Sea Stead Due To Maritime Border Conflict
The government of Thailand issued a statement claiming the illegality of the sea stead launched by one of the early Bitcoin adopters, Andrew Chad Elwartoski and his Thai girlfriend, Suprenee Thepdet. The pair maintain the stance that the sea stead is built off the maritime boarders of the country. The Thai officials boarded the sea stead earlier on Saturday to arrest the occupants for violating criminal law, an act punishable by death or life imprisonment.
The news broke out during the weekend as Elwartoski’s sea stead was boarded on Saturday by the Thai Navy. Elwart, as known by his Bitcointalk and Reddit pages, and his girlfriend, Suprenee, also known as Nadia Summergirl launched their sea stead back in February inviting others to join them to create a sovereign state. However, the Thai Navy boarded the structure Saturday and accuses the couple of breaching the country’s Criminal Code, Section 119.
The criminal code section 119 states,
“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.”
The Launch Of The Sea Stead
Elwart is a well-known figure among the Bitcoin community, as both an enthusiast and an early investor in the digital assets. The Bitcoiner used some of the profits made from the early investments to launch the $150,000 USD sea stead off the coast of Phuket, Thailand. Elwart and Nadia further have plans to create a business to launch more sea steads around their floating home as the anchor. The company is selling the first 20 homes starting today, Monday 15th April 2019.
The company further teaches the seasteaders skills needed to live in the floating home such as diving. The company confirmed over 69 people have shown interest to purchase a sea stead.
Thai Waters Border Problem
According to the website of the sea stead couple, the sea stead is built over 12 nautical miles away from the sovereign Thai border. The plan is to get U.N Convention on the Laws of the Sea to recognize the sea stead community as a sovereign state as it is far off the shore the Thai maritime authority. However, the land remains within the 200 nautical mile economic zone. The statement reads,
”We are just beyond 12 nautical miles from shore. Under international law, this puts us just outside of the territorial waters of Thailand but within their 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone … This means that we are not subject to Thailand laws other than those that deal with their natural resources … and no interfering with their customs.”
The Thai authorities, however, claim that the structure is not built in international waters but Thai maritime territory. The Bangkok Post further reports that the Thai police are looking into the Phuket based company that facilitated the construction for potential financial misconduct. This led to the latest raid on the premises on Saturday. During the raid, no person was found on the structure leading to further questions from the Thai authorities.
Furthermore, in the U.N Convention state, Article 56B and Article 60, paragraph 7 and paragraph 8 of the Sea Law Convention 1982states that the coastal state has jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of this convention with regard to […] the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures within a 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
Thai Navy Set To Remove The Sea Stead
The Thai Navy, on command from the Vice-Admiral, Sittiporn Maskasem, commander of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, boarded the structure after no radio contact was reached on the sea stead. No one was aboard the sea stead when the Thai Navy boarded and the whereabouts of the couple is still unknown. The Phuket Marine Office has called on the removal of the structure as the lack of electricity and light towers around the building could affect shipping routes to Phuket.