CALGARY -- He's a spider, entangling victims in a web of red tape.
At least that's how Andreas Pirelli is viewed by many frustrated Albertans this week, from the pensioner whose rental property he won't leave despite an eviction order, to the provincial minister in charge of landlord-tenant disputes.
"He knows the law better than some lawyers do -- he studies, and then finds all the loopholes and grey zones, and then goes into court with all this paperwork," said Rebekah Caverhill, speaking from her Sylvan Lake, Alta., home.
"He's a paper terrorist."
Caverhill's tale of landlord hell has left many wondering how one eccentric man can avoid eviction by declaring his rented Calgary duplex a sovereign "embassy," above and beyond Canadian law.
Of course, it isn't.
It's just an ordinary Parkdale duplex owned by Caverhill, who made the mistake of renting to Pirelli in 2011, even agreeing to let him live free for three months in exchange for renovation work.
According to what Caverhill told police and provincial authorities, her tenant then declared himself a member of Freemen-on-the-Land -- a growing movement which claims statute laws are voluntary, meaning anyone can opt out of rules and regulations by declaring themselves sovereign citizens.
The self-proclaimed handyman reportedly changed the locks without permission, gutted the kitchen and bathroom and painted the master bedroom black -- and then, says Caverhill, the tenant locked her out, saying she no longer had rights over his "embassy."
Pirelli, according to his landlord, then told her he would pay just half his $1,500 rent in future, and that she in turn owed his home improvement company, CPC Universal Group, $26,000 for work done to the home.
Caverhill says she then received a notice from the Land Titles Office, stating that the property had a lien for $17,000 against that unpaid bill.
"This has to stop, as far as this Freeman movement goes, because as far as I'm concerned, this is treason against Canada," Caverhill said.
Freemen-on-the-Land are a recent headache for authorities in the western world, with the FBI labelling them domestic terrorists responsible for the deaths of six law enforcement officers since 2000, including the fatal shooting of two Arkansas police officers in 2010.
The Law Society of B.C. and B.C. Notaries have also issued warnings about Freemen, saying there may be many as 30,000 in Canada.
Freemen have been blamed for frivolous lawsuits and liens against property, both government and private -- all aimed at using a legal system they shun against those who oppose them, by clogging it up with red tape.
So far, not a single Freeman has avoided punishment for what one Canadian judge has called "legal and intellectual bankruptcy," based on a misinterpretation of the law.