Thailand: American YouTube star to be charged with trespassing, cruelty to animals
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Thailand: American YouTube star to be charged with trespassing, cruelty to animals

A CONTROVERSIAL YouTube vlogger will be charged by Thai police with multiple counts of trespassing on railways and highways, as well as for cruelty to animals.

United States citizen Nathan Bartling, better known by his YouTube handle “My Mate Nate”, has gotten into trouble with authorities after posting on Sunday a video of himself placing coins from various countries on railway tracks to “test” how strong they were.

Bangkok’s Prawet District police chief Colonel Alongkorn Sirisongkram said Bartling would be charged on Wednesday with trespassing which carries a fine of THB100 (US$3), as reported by the Bangkok Post.

Sirisongkram also said he would ask the State Railway of Thailand if it would like to accuse Bartling of damaging state property, as evidenced by the apparent harm inflicted on the rails.

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Bartling said he did not use Thai coins, which would have made him liable to be charged under Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws.

The 24-year-old – who originally came to Southeast Asia as a Mormon missionary – has gained popularity and notoriety over the past few years for his “comedy” and “prank” videos, delivered largely in fluent Thai.

Bartling also runs a blog, produces freelance video content and has his own online store, where he sells “My Mate Nate” t-shirts, hats and even a customised drone, which is advertised for THB1990 (US$60).

The vlogger has previously come under fire for publishing controversial videos, including ones where he has mocked Thai pedestrians’ apparent lack of English language skills. He was more recently slammed by netizens for a video where he made his pet cat and a scorpion “fight”.

In each of these cases, the vlogger withdrew the videos from his channel and issued apologies to those he had offended.

The hashtag #MyMateNate was trending in Thailand on Monday, with an overwhelming majority of tweets condemning Bartling.

“The reason my videos go viral and big is because I’m something new that most of the Thai people aren’t familiar with. They want to know what foreigners think and feel about their country,” Bartling told the Huffington Post last May.

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“Everyone LOVES to hear what other people think about themselves, so when I start rattling off in fluent Thai, the locals just got crazy… especially the younger generation who has grown up with the Internet,” he bragged.

How times have changed.

A petition on started just four days ago, calling on the Thai government to suspend Bartling’s visa and to deport him from the kingdom, has garnered more than 62,000 signatures.

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