- he / him / his
"ENN Special: The Man Who Kept Being Accused Of Treason"
This ENN article will provide a look-back on the one citizen who was taken to court for treason more times than any Europeian in history — Lord Alphanesia. I'll fully admit, this ended up a LOT longer than I expected it to be. I hope folks get some entertainment value out of this.
Europeia was founded in 2007 as an unofficial spinoff region from the Land of Kings and Emperors, adopting many of its political traditions and citizenry. While the region quickly developed its own crop of political parties, the true dividing factionalism in the region was around support or opposition to the LKE in general. Many new Europeians were existing LKE-ers who didn't want to have their loyalty torn between one of the most active, dynamic political regions in the game and an upstart new Europeia. Other new citizens had been banned from the LKE — or left with bad blood — and sought to use Europeia to settle scores. A handful of natives with no knowledge of this seemingly random, other region, were caught in the middle.
Chief among the LA rejects group was Lord Alphanesia. He was a devious, scheming player who interspersed periods of high activity and contribution with conspiracies and attempted power grabs. Many of these plots would be seen as cartoonish by modern standards, but eventually he built one bridge too far in the Land of Kings and Emperors and was banned. Europeia would provide a convenient launching pad to pursue an agenda of revenge.
Within only weeks (if not days) of joining, Lord Alphanesia attempted to spark a war between Europeia and The LKE by using doctored logs from the Prime Minister of the LKE that erased a tongue emoji that made clear such discussions of war were a joke. The matter wasn't settled until a Who's Who of gameplayers were added to an impromptu MSN Messenger conversation to debate the matter.
Around the same time, he also brought Kazaman to court for treason. Lord Alphanesia argued that as King HEM had given a speech asking for activity, Kazaman's inactivity was treasonous behavior. This contrived legal argument was cover for a blatant attempt to sideline an extremely pro-LKE member.
Lord Alphanesia is not an extremely sympathetic figure, but there is also no doubt that early Europeian history was overly tied up in outside regional affairs. Every single treason changed Lord Alphanesia faced involved outside regions, and the later two trials involved very significant regions in Europeia's sphere. Each of these cases involved buffoonish intrigue and corruption and corruption from Lord Alphanesia, yes, but also political missteps from key Europeians (significantly, myself) that the region continually has to pay a pound of flesh to settle out.
There can be no question that Europeia only started to break away from this cycle of drama and prove its mettle as a region after myself and Lethen severed most significant ties in other regions.
Treason Trial #1 — June 4th, 2007
The first treason case against Lord Alphanesia opened June 4th 2007 and closed one day later on June 5th.
Europeia was currently being governed under a so-called "interim government" that had been hastily ushered in to end the Prime Minister term of Verteger. At the center of this political system was a General Assembly of all citizens, which elected a Chief of State (President and Speaker), Lord Chancellor (Chief Justice), and for some reason or another, the Dean of the University.
Lord Alphanesia was narrowly defeated in the Chief of State elections, losing after a concentrated push by the monarchy to elect Hyanygo instead. The monarchy and pro-LKE faction, however, could not prevent him from securing the consolation prize of being elected Lord Chancellor after wild-card native Rotalsia threw the election to Lord Alphanesia. Lord Alphanesia was elected Lord Chancellor on June 3rd, one day later, he was in court for treason.
Styled off of the LKE at the time, Europeia operated a carnival barker style of judicial proceedings, with any and all citizens speaking up in the court room with their opinions. Often citizens would claim to be joining the "prosecution team" or "defense team" to make a few points in favor of one or another. In short, it was a circus.
The court case was opened by me, at the urging of Rotalsia — a former Prime Minister and one of our key native citizens — who was tired of Lord Alphanesia's threats and antics.
The prosecutions chiefly raise two incidents that purportedly rise to the level of treason:
(1) Lord Alphanesia threatened to send a virus to Rotalsia's computer using some kind of technical wizardry he always claims to possess but somehow never demonstrates.
(2) Lord Alphanesia said, in some context lost to time, that he wanted to remove me as King from power.
Problem #1 was that because early Europeia had zero precedent, and not many laws, there was no legal definition for treason. Problem #2 was that as Lord Chancellor, Lord Alphenesia was presiding over his own trial. He promises to judge himself fairly, which is absurd as it sounds, but there is no mechanism to force recusal.
Lord Alphanesia's initial rebuttal brings up the following arguments:
— Rotalsia is not the Crown, so threatening him is not treason.
— Pictorial evidence (almost assuredly logs from MSN Messenger) is not admissable. A legal tactic tried in many cases, but almost all regions at this time accept conversation logs off-site as evidence.
— There is no law regarding computer viruses in Europeia, so even if Rotalsia were the Crown and Lord Alphanesia had threatened him, it wasn't treason.
To go a step further, Lord Alphanesia then states that he believes that the third screenshot was tampered with (him being the expert on this). Lord Alphanesia claims to summon an "intelligence expert" to examine the screenshot, while he also summons GovernorGoldfarb (an easily impressionable friend) as a character witness to chime in with his opinion on the case.
The character witness backfires, with Goldfarb saying that he does think Lord Alphanesia's actions amount to treason. Meanwhile, Rotalsia walks through how Lord Alphanesia threatened to send a virus to his computer, and also threatened his region of Estalcia which was a colony of Europeia.
Rotalsia provides some measure of logical proof that the screenshots weren't tampered with, and seeks to solidify the evidence further by inviting Lethen (who was present in the group conversation) to testify. But as the presiding judge, Lord Alphanesia denies Lethen as a witness for the prosecution as he is currently not a citizen. Meanwhile, GovernorGoldfarb continues to give his commentary on the case as a "witness," claiming that perhaps the whole thing could be forgotten if Lord Alphanesia merely apologized.
After it became clear that there was not enough public pressure to have Lord Alphanesia declare himself guilty, I worked with him to settle the case out of court. Lord Alphanesia was found guilty of a lesser — but regardless, still non-existent crime of civil disobedience (absolutely no relation to the RL movement of peacefully disobeying unjust laws) — and sentenced to recruitment.
After everything is settled, it is logically brought up by Hyanygo that one of the other "assistant" judges should've taken this case as Lord Alphanesia was both the defendant and the presiding judge.
Treason Trial #2 — June 6th, 2007
As it turned out, not a single day would go by before Lord Alphanesia was back in court facing treason charges.
Remember how I said before that many Europeians (including me, the King) were way too tied up in other regions and it was causing messy situations for Europeia? Well, this second trial essentially revolves around the Land of Kings and Emperors — where I was currently serving a train-wreck term as Prime Minister.
Lord Alphanesia had made the decision to try to orchestrate an invasion of one of the LKE's colonies, The Land of Dragonia, with a handful of independent actors who claimed to represent the regions of "Eurasia" and "Macedon" but most likely represented nothing meaningful. Lord Alphanesia himself was banned from the United Nations (World Assembly) and so had another nation, Irracio, serve as point. I was made aware of this invasion via a tip-off on the LKE side. It was very late in the evening, with the update only hours away. Note: This was long before raiding jump tools were mainstream, and so raids didn't jump seconds or even minutes before update, but acted more like "piles" with people trying to covertly move into the region without being noticed — sometimes as far out as hours before update.
Meanwhile, Lord Alphanesia was working his connections to try to get more troops on his end. Including in Europeia, where he asked that Rotalsia move in to support the invasion. However, I had gotten to Rotalsia first and Rotalsia engaged in a (now lost) conversation with Lord Alphanesia where he questioned whether this was truly the position of the region given the orders of the King.
With Lord Alphanesia's continued insistence that the invasion was conducted by a Europeian ally, on June 6th, Rotalsia brought Lord Alphanesia to court for treason by defying the orders of the Crown.
No doubt, this trial was still a dumpster fire on wheels, but it was a marked improvement over the trial a few days prior when Lord Alphanesia handed the gavel off to his three Assistant Judges: Pineapleboy, SenatorTC, and Hyanygo.
As it turns out, Pineapleboy was online when the trial opened, and was able to preside over the trial — maintaining a least a nominal sense of order and reason.
Lord Alphanesia's first defense in the trial is that the invading nation, Irracio, was in fact a Europeian ally. Or at the very least, that the prosecution couldn't prove that he wasn't. He said that Irracio was a Minister of the Aeazen Combine, an organization that (at the time) Europeia had friendly relations with.
Rotalsia then called me as a witness in the trial. Lord Alphanesia attempted to call his own witness. While his witness was never formally named, context implies that Lord Alphanesia was trying to call Don Corleone — founder and ambassador from La Mafia.
However, Pineapleboy insisted on hearing one witness at a time.
I testified that the nation was not an ally of Europeia, and we did not have an alliance with the Aeazen Combine. Furthermore, that as King I have the authority to decide our allies and enemies. Lord Alphanesia refutes my testimony by saying that the LKE also isn't an ally, so the matter is moot.
At this point, the court considers a few arguments concurrently. These aren't necessarily, but grouped together for ease of understanding
Lord Alphnasia demands that his witness be called, but there is a brief debate on the court floor on the legality of his witness. If you recall, Lord Alphanesia had ruled as Lord Chancellor only days before that Lethen, as an ambassador, could not be called as a witness. Lord Alphanesia gets angry when Pineapleboy insists that a key point of the case be resolved before another witness is called, accusing the case of "being corrupt." Pineapleboy promptly demands that Lord Alphanesia make no further demands of the court. When the court was ready to receive Lord Alphanesia's witness, he had unfortunately logged off for the night.
Meanwhile, the case also descends into a tangent argument as to whether myself, as Prime Minister of LKE, formally requested of myself, King of Europeia, for military assistance in the mission. Lord Alphanesia became increasingly insistent that it's key that I provide screenshots of me making the request of myself. Eventually, Pineapleboy accepts my witness testimony that there was a request that Europeia intervene in the battle, and that I accepted it. After conceding that the court wouldn't throw out that testimony, Lord Alphanesia then pivoted to asking how he could be expected to know of this decision if the only conversation about it was with myself (e.g. how can he be blamed for "accidentally" ending up on the opposite site of the battle). In term, I claimed that I told everyone to deploy in support of the LKE, but that I couldn't declare war or an enemy because I had no knowledge of what group was invading — only that we opposed the invasion.
In a parallel argument, Lord Alphanesia argues that as Chief Hyanygo appointed him Lord Marshall, he should be the final word on what military missions Europeia participants in and which side is "our side." However, there is no statutory support for the role of Lord Marshall — legislation defining this further failed in the General Assembly. I try to sidestep this argument entirely by saying that Lord Alphanesia was offline during the time I had to make a decision, and as King, nobody could question my authority to step in when the relevant official was absent. Lord Alphanesia bitterly denied he was absent at any point through the night.
As the arguments begin to wind down, GovernorGoldfarb, once again Kool-Aid Mans through the courtroom walls to give his opinion on the case. He claims that nobody could've known that Irracio was an enemy of Europeia, and that Lord Alphanesia should be found innocent.
Pineapleboy then summed up the facts of the case, which both sides agreed with (a remarkable accomplishment):
To overview the relevant events of this trial:
The prosecution charged Lord Alphanesia with high treason, on the grounds that he aided the enemy.
The presiding judge asked that the prosecution prove that Irracio, who Lord Alphanesia backed in a battle for control of The Land of Dragonia, was indeed an "enemy."
The prosecution stated that he was an enemy as he was a member of the opposing side. They went on to say that he was a member of the opposing side as Hem, who was acting commander of Europeian forces at the time, dispatched troops.
The defense refuted this, saying that Europeia made no formal announcement choosing a side.
It was now time for the judges to vote on the case. Lord Alphanesia decided to abstain from the vote.
Pineapleboy approached the case from a strict, legalist perspective. Treason was mentioned in Europeian law, but there was no definition. Therefore it was impossible to commit. Not Guilty.
SenatorTC, who wasn't largely present during the case but was working to thwart the invasion from the LKE side, was personally upset with Lord Alphanesia for misleading LKEers to support the attack. To that end, he felt he should be punished. Guilty.
Hyanygo became the swing vote. He initially voted Not Guilty, believing Lord Alphanesia's arguments that I had never informed him on what side of the invasion Europeia was on. Indeed, he went as far initially as to suggest that perhaps it was an entrapment case from myself and Rotalsia. However, when he was presented with evidence through MSN Conversation screenshots that Lord Alphanesia had known what side the Crown was backing in the fight, he changed his ruling to Guilty.
SenatorTC made the ruling, which in light of the lack of statutory support for the crime, was relatively light. Lord Alphanesia would be banned from the region for two weeks, with a two week suspended sentence.
Taking a step back here with a modern Europeian lens...what was the *correct* decision here? Wellllll, I'm not a legal eagle but I'll take a stab at it.
Pineapleboy was correct that there was no statutory definition of treason. However, treason was mentioned in multiple iterations of the Europeian Constitution and in more than one law. There were also multiple court cases, under multiple presiding judges, that discuss charges of treason without the ruling ever being "this is impossible to commit." So while he makes a valid legal argument, I'm not sure I agree with it. Clearly it was the intent of countless legislators and jurists that treason be something that exists in Europeian law.
Okay, so if treason can be committed... Did this event rise to treason? Of course, people can be citizens of a region and occasionally find themselves on the other side of that region in R/D gameplay. This happened, even back in 2007.
But this was a targeted invasion of a region, where the response of the Crown was to defend the region and oppose that hostile action. Also, most MSN Messenger logs here are lost, but there is no doubt that Lord Alphanesia knew the position of the Crown, and likely received something akin to a direct order to stand down. While I think Lord Alphanesia's actions are not as egregious as if he had invaded an ally of Europeia, or worked with a region with whom we were at war, disobeying a direct order in a military context — absent any other statutes — seems like it could reasonably be considered treason
And finally, did the Crown have the authority to set Europeia's position on this matter? Again, a bill designed to give Lord Alphanesia's Lord Marshall role more direct power failed, which may have made this matter murkier.
So, what does the existing law say? The governing law/pseudo Constitution at the time does give the Chief of State power to appoint a Cabinet and "oversee Ministers." It would be illogical to assume that these Ministers wouldn't have any power. So maybe Lord Alphanesia has the military powers he says he has? But the Constitution also broadly gives the King (Emperor in title, but rarely used) the power to "engage in foreign affairs" while the Chief of State has the power to "make sure the region is running smoothly and oversee the ministers." One could make the argument that the Chief of State actually has no power over foreign affairs at all, as "making sure the region is running smoothly" seems to refer more to domestic affairs.
However, without even going that far, the document ultimately says that the "The Executive Branch will be lead by an Emperor henceforth referred to as HEM," which absent any other legislation or limitations, would seem to give the final say on many matters to the Crown.
Ultimately, I think the court — through a sometimes byzantine and quasi-legal methodology — broadly got to the right result. Yes, the action was treasonous. But there were mitigating circumstances to reduce the ban length.
Treason Trial #3 — September 29th, 2007
Lord Alphanesia didn't immediately return to Europeia when his ban expired. Activity dropped significantly over the following weeks, and I made the decision that it was time to end the interim General Assembly government and come up with something more concrete: A transition to a Republic.
I had a lot of reservations about giving up the Crown — including managing more troublemaking members like Lord Alphanesia — but I saw it as a hail mary pass. Also, in the meantime, I was elected as our first President, so that's great!
After the first government was seated, Lord Alphanesia did return to the region to run in a Senate by-election triggered by the departure of Senator PRA. His competition was future President Nlhp and a new member named NasalivesII. The campaign was exceptionally dirty on all sides. The Nlhp campaign (and his campaign manager Lethen) promoted unfounded campaign imagery trying to unfairly tie Lord Alphanesia to the unpopular "mandatory education" ideas, while Lord Alphanesia falsely announcing that NasalivesII was withdrawing from the race and endorsing him and producing campaign posters depicting Lethen as a puppet master over Nlhp. Ultimately, Nlhp won the seat and Lord Alphanesia took Lethen and Nlhp to court for slander. Notably, in this trial, Chief Justice Pineapleboy transitioned a circus into a more orderly trial — a step toward Europeia's modern justice system.
The next month would see an uneasy steadiness with Lord Alphanesia in the region. The new Republic was still finding its footing, with activity more down than it was up. With a small corp of members Europeia needed every single citizen it could get. To that end, I worked to try to broker an armistice between Lord Alphanesia and his enemies. A lot of apologies were exchanged, and things seemed to be simmering.
During this time, Europeia does attract some new citizens. One is a nation named Paleomiz who played Nationstates a few years prior and even got a United Nations (World Assembly) resolution passed. She is very self-assured and assertive, which turns off some longer-standing citizens. Another is Revengerous, an eager player who comes across a little immaturely and unpolished.
Also during this time, I attain the role of King of Hampshire — another LKE spinoff region founded by dual LKE-er and Europeian, SenatorTC. The region is not in good shape, and I am the third king the region has had over the past summer.
While things appear calm with Lord Alphanesia on the surface, he can't stop himself from his usual plotting — especially with regards to the new nations who are joining the region. Lord Alphanesia picks up on some animosity that Paleomiz has for Revengerous, and paints a picture of a plot that could see Revengerous ejected from the region and control seized.
While myself and other key members became aware of this conversation weeks prior, I held off on pressing charges out of fear of losing an active citizen in a region that was seemingly holding on by a thread. However, the calculus changed after a key event occurred in Hampshire.
I was not a good King of Hampshire. It was clearly not my top priority and I didn't have the best relationships there in the region. I attained the Crown after being made Crown Prince by King Linkin, who essentially trusted me to not be a disaster. However, Linkin was forced to abdicate due to real life, and I gained power.
Regional conversations on how to improve activity were going nowhere, and Lord Alphanesia — who was also a citizen in Hampshire — saw an opening. On night he cornered me on MSN Messenger, berating me and harassing me about how big failure of a King I was, and weaving a convoluted tale about how he was meant to be king. The whole saga was pretty absurd, and honestly I should've just blocked him or laughed my ass off at him, but I was 13-year-old and eventually felt bombarded and overwhelmed. After hours of this behavior, I agreed to abdicate the throne of Hampshire to him.
How Lord Alphanesia exactly got the throne was kept vague to others. Seeking to bolster some sort of spymaster or populist persona, Lord Alphanesia let people think it was more of a popular revolution or coup de tat. Meanwhile, in Europeia he was said to have "seized the throne". His actions would soon render the "how" meaningless, as Europeia was thrust into a cold war with Hampshire. Europeian ambassadors were thrown in Hampshire prison, and the new Europeian Intelligence Agency worked with domestic actors in the region to try to plan a counter revolution against Lord Alphanesia.
It was at this point where I finally filed charges against Lord Alphanesia for treason. Newly elected Chief Justice Pez201 presided over the case.
We were very fortunate that, finally learning some lessons from the past, the Republic had passed some statutory language regarding treason. There was finally some language to work off of:
Treason of the region shall consist only of levying war against Europeia, giving our enemies aid and comfort, attempting to overthrow the government or attempting to help our enemies.
Despite this, my opening statement was more ethos-drive, trying to use an emotional appeal to get the still-green Pez201 to see the case. The alleged treasonous actions included:
(1) Offering to help Paleomiz entrap Revengerous into doing something treasonous
(2) Orchestrating an invasion of Europeia to either achieve the Presidency through elections, or manipulate the populace into approving legislation to roll back civil rights and democracy
In comparison to the other cases, this one is much more cut-and-dry. While (1) is a little bit more dodgy, opening discussing to trigger a war, including an invasion of Europeia, and possibly overthrow democratic institutions, seemed to fit into the legal definition of treason.
Lord Alphanesia's defense rested on a few pillars:
— The delay in prosecuting the case
— Denying MSN Messenger logs can be used as evidence (this old chestnut back again!)
— The plan did not come to fruition
— The fact he was "drunk as a mule" when discussing these conspiracies with Paleomiz
In comparison to past trials, Lord Alphanesia's defense was far more muted. This may have been because that the statutory language around treason was clear and his goose was cooked, or he felt he had bigger fish to fry in Hampshire.
Pez201 found Lord Alphanesia guilty of treason, and sentenced him to a 2 month ban. However, as the cold war with Hampshire continued to escalate and give rise to patriotic fervor in the region, I quickly appealed the sentence asking for a lifetime ban. A 23-year ban was approved in short order.
Eventually Lord Alphanesia's reign was overthrown in Hampshire, something Europeia was very keen to help take credit for, even though a counter-revolutionary had simply tricked him into giving them administrative powers on the forum.
While Lord Alphanesia would have some periodic intersections with Europeia in the future — including using the region of Audux to try to harm us, the same way he had used Europeia against the Land of Kings and Emperors — his time as a main character in our region had ended.
In many ways, it was his conduct that required our legal system to evolve and professionalize, to avoid allowing unacceptable behavior to fall through legalistic cracks. Over the years, this also extended to evolving Administrator roles, where some inexcusable behavior (like, say, threatening to send viruses to people's computers) are handled outside of gameplay.
There would later be parallels — though on a much much less far egregious plane — with the career trajectory of Champagne Jam/Falconias, where legal systems also fell short in holding him accountable.
Lord Alphanesia was periodically seen in some Nationstates corners as recently as 2018. His known interactions with Europeia came to an end with the fall of the Commonwealth around 2012.