In a turn of events that many think was long overdue, American expat YouTuber My Mate Nate was detained by Immigration Police this afternoon after he appearing at a press conference with the State Railway of Thailand (SRT).
Nate Bartling was prevented from leaving the venue of the press conference in Bangkok today, where it was announced that the popular internet personality was charged with railway trespassing, for filming a video in which he flattened coins using an oncoming train.
In a live report posted by PPTV, Bartling was surrounded by reporters in the parking lot after the press conference finished, but then a police officer intervened and escorted Bartling back into the building.
Minutes later, Bartling came out of the room, holding hands with his Thai fiancé. The pair was escorted into a car by an officer, who only said the expat would be taken to the Immigration Bureau. The officer refused to answer reporters’ questions.
Meanwhile, the SRT is estimating the damage to the train tracks and may demand compensation from My Mate Nate Studio, Bartling’s company. It was also announced that Bartling must make a video to promote the Thai Railway for his YouTube channel, which boasts 3.2 million followers.
“What’s important is he needs to take responsibility for his behavior and make amends to Thai society,” said SRT Deputy Director Thanongsak Pongprasert.
At the press conference, Bartling appeared tired and angry. He said he is now “afraid to leave his house” and “hears people whisper” when he goes out.
“Who in the world wants to feel afraid for their safety when they leave their house? I am a guest in this country. I don’t want to cause any problems,” Bartling said.
“I could have got a flight home, but I’m not running from the problem. I’m taking responsibility, and I’ll continue to make videos,” he said.
When asked by reporters about his residence in Thailand, he responded, “I live here legally. I am employed by a company. Like I said, I have a work visa.”
On top of the trespassing charge, police are investigating whether the foreigner should be charged for obstructing railways with objects in a manner which can cause danger to the operation of the trains.
If he is charged and found guilty, My Mate Nate could be going away for along time. The punishment is up to seven years in prison and a fine of THB14,000.