An American who set up a floating home off the Thailand coast could face the death penalty for violating the country's national sovereignty.
Chad Elwartowski, and his Thai partner Supranee Thepdet, had their remote residence in the Andaman Sea, near Phuket, raided by the Royal Thai Navy.
Mr Elwartowski is a pioneer on the "seasteading" movement, which promotes living in international waters to be free of any nation's laws.
However, they were accused by Thailand of an an offence potentially punishable by life imprisonment or death.
The couple said the sea-based structure, which they had been living on part-time, was anchored just over 12 miles from the coast, slightly outside Thailand's territorial waters
They were not on it when it was raided, and have since gone into hiding on the mainland.
Writing on Facebook, Mr Elwartowski said he previously worked as a software engineer for the US military in Afghanistan, Germany and South Korea, and is now a bitcoin investor.
He said: "This is ridiculous. We lived on a floating house boat for a few weeks and now Thailand wants us killed.
"Hunting us down to our death is just plain stupid and highlights exactly the reason someone would be willing to go out in middle of the ocean to get away from governments."
Thailand has revoked Mr Elwartowski's visa and plans to remove the structure, which is on top of a 20-metre platform.
A Thai navy official told the Bangkok Post: “We have already prepared a vessel, equipment and manpower to move the structure. We will try to move it within a week."
The Thai deputy naval commander responsible for the area said the project was a challenge to the country's authorities.
"This affects our national security and cannot be allowed," Rear Adm. Wintharat Kotchaseni told Thai media on Tuesday. He said the floating house also posed a safety threat to navigation if it broke loose because the area is considered a shipping lane.
What is seasteading?
The sea-home was constructed by a company called Ocean Builders.
On its website the company says: "Seasteading is the concept of creating permanent dwellings at sea, called seasteads, outside the territory claimed by any government."
In a video posted on the internet last month Mr Elwartowski and Ms Thepdet, who is also known as Nadia Summergirl, were shown drinking champagne on top of their "sea home" and inviting others to join them in an ocean community.
Seasteading has had a revival in recent years as libertarian ideas of living free from state interference - such as by using crypto-currency including Bitcoin - have become more popular, including among influential Silicon Valley figures such as entrepreneur Peter Thiel. Mr Elwartowski, an IT specialist, has been involved in Bitcoin since 2010.
Several larger-scale projects are under development, but some in the seasteading community have credited the Andaman Sea house with being the first modern implementation of seasteading.
"The first thing to do is whatever I can to help Chad & Nadia, because living on a weird self-built structure and dreaming of future sovereignty should be considered harmless eccentricities, not major crimes," Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer who heads The Seasteading Institute, said on his Facebook page.
The floating two-story octagonal house at the centre of the controversy had been profiled and promoted online by Ocean Builders.
The group describes itself as "a team of engineering focused entrepreneurs who have a passion for seasteading and are willing to put the hard work and effort forward to see that it happens."
In online statements, both Mr Elwartowski and Ocean Builders said the couple merely promoted and lived on the structure, and did not fund, design, build or set the location for it.
"I was volunteering for the project promoting it with the desire to be able to be the first seasteader and continue promoting it while living on the platform," Mr Elwartowski told The Associated Press.
"Being a foreigner in a foreign land, seeing the news that they want to give me the death penalty for just living on a floating house had me quite scared," Mr Elwartowski said.
"We are still quite scared for our lives. We seriously did not think we were doing anything wrong and thought this would be a huge benefit for Thailand in so many ways."
Asked his next step, he was more optimistic.
"I believe my lawyer can come to an amicable agreement with the Thai government," he said.