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Michael Jude Gogulski (born 8 August 1972) is a political activist and freelance translator. He is one of a small number of former Americans known to have voluntarily become stateless after renouncing their citizenship.
Gogulski's grandparents emigrated to the U.S. in the 19th century; his paternal grandparents from near Poznań, Poland and his maternal grandparents from Germany. Gogulski was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but his family moved to Orlando, Florida soon after due to his father's job as an electromechanical engineer. He has a younger sister, Karen. He attended Lake Howell High School, where he was a National Merit Scholarship Program finalist and a brain bowl team member; he graduated in 1990.
Gogulski entered Orlando College in 1990 to study computer science. In April 1992, while still a student there and living in Casselberry, Florida, he became the first person to be arrested by the Orange County Sheriff's Office for computer hacking. Police stated that he had stolen at least $30,000 of long-distance telephone services. Among the victims of the theft were the county government, a tutorial service at the University of Florida, and an auto dealership. Charged with one count of violating the Florida Communications Fraud Act, he pleaded guilty in Seminole County Circuit Court; under a plea agreement, he received two years of probation, but a formal ruling of guilt was withheld and no further charges were filed. He later lost interest in his studies and withdrew from school. Nevertheless, he went on to a ten-year career as a system administrator.
Gogulski's father died in 2001. In 2004, Gogulski left the U.S. to teach English in Eastern Europe. He eventually ended up in Bratislava, Slovakia, where he became a translator, proofreader, and editor.
Renunciation of citizenship
Gogulski renounced his citizenship in December 2008, though his name did not appear in the Internal Revenue Service's Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who Have Chosen to Expatriate until February 2011. He was living in Slovakia at the time. After Gogulski renounced, the Slovak authorities issued a stateless person's travel document to him. He thus needs a United States visa in order to visit his mother, but he suspects that he would be unable to obtain one. He states that he is eligible to apply for Slovak citizenship, but prefers to remain stateless. As a legal resident of Slovakia, he can travel freely throughout the Schengen Area. In 2012 he was denied a British visa, an issue which he attributed to the short remaining validity period of his travel document.
Gogulski stated that he renounced his citizenship in order to repudiate the American system, which he felt was the source of many wrongs in the world. Gogulski has stated that he hopes to start a mass movement of Americans giving up citizenship and making themselves stateless en masse. He receives occasional enquiries from others who are interested in following in his footsteps and becoming stateless themselves; he advises them to "understand all the implications" before they make the leap, pointing out that while he has faced few hardships due to his statelessness, others may find it more difficult due to their personal situations.
In 1999, Gogulski founded the Connecticut Cannabis Policy Forum, which aimed to remove all penalties for adult marijuana consumption. In 2010, Gogulski founded the Private Manning Support Network, which organised protests in support of Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning (a U.S. soldier convicted of disclosing classified documents to WikiLeaks) and raised $50,000 to fund her legal defense.
As a software developer, Gogulski has contributed open source code on GitHub, including a PHP library for the decentralised digital currency bitcoin. He is also an active member of Bitcointalk.org, the largest bitcoin online forum, and has been interviewed on bitcoin by Russia Today. He operates the Bitcoin Laundry, a service which allows users to exchange their bitcoins for other bitcoins which have a different transaction history.
- Mendoza, Moises (2011-12-06). "Stateless in Slovakia: What if you renounce US citizenship … and you have no nationality to fall back on? Meet Mike Gogulski, refugee by choice.". Global Post. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- "Trápi ma slovesný vid!". Markíza. 2009-07-02. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
- McBreen, Sharon (1992-05-17). "Hacker's Arrest Highlights Trend: Phone Service Theft". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- "Casselberry Man Admits Guilt In Phone Fraud Case". Orlando Sentinel. 1992-10-07. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- "Teen faces charges of computer crimes". The News. 1992-05-01. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- McBreen, Sharon (1992-04-30). "Computer Hacker Arrested". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- Internal Revenue Service (2011-02-11). "Quarterly Publication of Individuals, Who Have Chosen To Expatriate, as Required by Section 6039G". Federal Register. 76 (7907): 7907–7913. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- "US largest criminal in world". Russia Today. 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
- McBain, Sophie (2013-06-25). "The Pros and Cons of Modern Statelessness". Spear's. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
- Krayeske, Ken (1999-05-20). "Pot Politics". Hartford Advocate. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- Traub, Courtney (2010-08-20). "Free WikiLeaks Suspect Manning, say activists". Radio France Internationale. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- "Scott Horton Interviews Mike Gogulski". Antiwar.com. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
- "mikegogulski (Mike Gogulski)". Github. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
- "mikegogulski profile". Bitcointalk.org. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
- "US clamps down on Bitcoin, fears lack of control". Russia Today. 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
- Araxia Abrahamian, Atossa (2014-05-27). "A Bum Without a Country: Mike Gogulski builds a life outside the state". Vice Magazine. Retrieved 2014-05-28.