A popular American YouTuber has been given a misdemeanour charge in Thailand, after he posted a viral video of himself placing coins on a railway for trains to run over.
23-year-old Nathan Bartling, popularly known by his channel My Mate Nate, was charged this week with trespassing.
The American citizen is fluent in Thai, and first came to Thailand as a missionary for a two-year stint, some four years ago. Later, he started his now-successful YouTube channel, which has over three million subscribers.
Bartling held a press conference on Monday together with the State Railway of Thailand, and Thai police, where he apologised for his actions, reported Khaosod English.
In the video that has since been taken down, he’s seen taping coins from different countries to a train track, and inspecting the resultant debris after a train runs them over.
38 coin imprints were found on the railway tracks where Bartling filmed his video and a Hong Kong 20-cent coin in the area, said Prawet police chief Alongkorn Sirisongkram.
The State Railway of Thailand is also mulling a charge of damages on state property.
For the trespassing charge alone, Bartling faces a paltry 100 baht ($2.90) fine, according to the Bangkok Post.
While that appears to be a minor slap on the wrist, Bartling is in further trouble for a video in which he showed his cats fighting a scorpion. Authorities are investigating the incident now, but haven’t formally charged him yet, Khaosod reported.
“I could get on a plane and go home right now, but I want my followers to see that I’m not escaping my problems,” Bartling told media during the press conference on Monday. “Everyone makes mistakes, but I feel sad that my mistakes are aired out in public.
“This is just a small mistake but I’m surrounded and beat up because of it.”
“What’s important is he needs to take responsibility for his behaviour and make amends of Thai society,” according to Thanongsak Pongprasert, the deputy director of the State Railway of Thailand.
Animal abuse investigation
On June 5, Bartling posted a video of his cats fighting a scorpion.
“Grabbing the camera to film my cats might have been my fault,” he said in a video posted five days later. “Letting the cats play with a scorpion is like teaching a child to know what’s hot or cold by letting them learn for themselves.”
“I didn’t have any malicious intent to hurt the cats,” he said, adding that he had bought the scorpion which had its stinger removed.
A petition for Thailand to revoke Bartling’s visa has received nearly 66,000 signatures, and several Twitter users have called for him to leave the country:
Bartling is in Thailand under a work visa, under his YouTube company, My Mate Nate Studios Ltd.
This isn’t the first time Bartling has courted controversy, however.
Last year, he sparked outrage when he appeared to make fun of Thais for not being able to speak English, in yet another viral video.
Bartling filmed himself going up to Thais on the street to converse in English, only to say phrases like “you look terrible!” while smiling and capturing people’s confused reactions.