A US man is facing the death penalty after Thai authorities found the home he was living in, built in the middle of the ocean.
Chad Elwartowski and his Thai girlfriend Supranee Thepdet, known as Nadia, were forced to flee their "seastead" after authorities decided it was a violation of Thailand's sovereignty, The Guardian reports.
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Thai authorities are considering legal action after discovering the home. Charges of violating Thailand's sovereignty currently carry the death penalty.
The authorities say the home, which sits on a 20 metre long pillar and lies 12 nautical miles from shore, is part of an attempt to build an independent state.
"There is evidence showing that they have publicly invited people on social media to stay at the site, which is adjacent to our territorial waters," said Thai Navy vice admiral Sitthiporn Maskasem.
"We have laws to deal with this. It affects our sovereignty."
Elwartowski had been part of plans to expand the singular seastead into a small village with 20 more homes. He claimed there were 70 interested investors, The Guardian reports.
He is adamant that his home is outside Thailand's jurisdiction and therefore he cannot be charged with anything.
"The law Nadia and I are accused of violating (which carries a death sentence) only applies in Thailand's territory and within its territorial waters," he said on Facebook.
Ocean Builders, the company that built the sea home, said in a statement the Thai navy claimed the sea home was in a shipping lane.
"The fishing boat captains used to wave at Nadia and Chad as they passed by. They were in no way bothered by the floating home. The seastead takes up less space in the shipping lane than a fishing boat."
There are differing reports about whether or not the sea home has been demolished. Ocean Builders says Elwartowski and Thepdet are safe. The pair are upset about the situation though.
"I was free for a moment. Probably the freest person in the world. It was glorious," Elwartowski wrote on Facebook last week.