US man spends two nights in jail for writing negative review of Thailand hotel

A beach in Koh Poda island near Krabi, Thailand Photo: Reuters (For representation) A man

a tree next to a body of water: A beach in Koh Poda island near Krabi, Thailand Photo: Reuters (For representation)

A beach in Koh Poda island near Krabi, Thailand Photo: Reuters (For representation)

A man from the US could face time in prison after he posted negative reviews of a hotel in Thailand. Yes, you read that right.

According to The New York Times, American expat Wesley Barnes, who teaches English in Thailand, had written a negative review for a hotel, Sea View Koh Chang resort on the island of Koh Chang. He did so after they charged him a USD 15 corkage fee for bringing his bottle of gin to the restaurant. According to the hotel, Barnes had argued with the manager regarding the fee, and the hotel had agreed to not charge anything extra. But later, he had posted a negative review.

Though, little did he know that it could end up costing him his job and some prison time.

The hotel was not happy with the review. An AP report said that he could be in prison for seven years for defamation and violating the Computer Crime Act by posting allegedly false information online. However, according to The New York Times, the sentence could be two years.

According to AP, Barnes in a statement for the media, had said that he lost his teaching job and fears going to prison. He was even arrested earlier this month and freed on USD 3,160 bail after being jailed for two nights.

One of the reviews by Barnes on the Tripadvisor website read, “Do not sleep here! Don’t support modern day slavery of Thai people.” It was taken down by the website after the resort reported it. But Barnes posted another review saying, “Avoid this place as if it was the Coronavirus!”

Barnes clarified that he wrote the negative review because he saw the food and beverage director, whom he called the restaurant manager, treat a Thai employee abusively.

However, the hotel in a press statement said that Barnes left fabricated stories on his reviews on Tripadvisor and Google that included “xenophobic connotations, accusations of slavery and even comments that could mislead readers to associate the property with the coronavirus.”

The resort’s statement further read, “Before filing a complaint with the authorities, we attempted to contact the guest multiple times via emails, Tripadvisor, and phone calls in order to settle this dispute amicably. None of our communications were successful, with the guest only responding to our messages after his arrest.”

Though the resort agreed that the defamation charges were a bit extreme, but, since Barnes refused to respond to their attempts at communication and instead persistently posted negative and untrue reviews, they had to take action.

Tripadvisor, who took down Barnes review said that “Tripadvisor is opposed to the idea that a traveller can be prosecuted for expressing opinions. Thankfully, on a global basis, prosecutions like this are rare and hundreds of millions of travelers are able to express themselves freely without facing criminal charges.”

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