An American is facing jail in Thailand after being sued by an island hotel and resort over a negative TripAdvisor review. He could face up to two years in a Thai prison if found guilty, according to authorities.
When American Wesley Barnes visited Koh Chang island and stayed at the Sea View Resort he was less than impressed. He took to TripAdvisor to complain about the service in the hotel.
"The Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the TripAdvisor website," Colonel Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police told AFP.
He said Barnes was accused of causing "damage to the reputation of the hotel" and of quarrelling with staff over not paying a corkage fee for alcohol brought to the hotel.
Barnes, who works in Thailand, was arrested by immigration police and escorted 250 km back to Koh Chang where he was jailed for a couple of nights before raising a 100,000 Baht bail.
Barnes posted a TripAdvisor review in July, saying that he encountered “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don't want anyone here”.
The resort said that they only took action because Barnes had taken to a number of different sites to vent his displeasure. A travel blogger, Richard Barrow, who has over 167,000 followers, posted the resort’s statement on Twitter. Read the thread below for statements from the resort and Barnes.
"We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future," the hotel said, adding that staff had attempted to contact Barnes before filing the complaint.
Thailand’s strict defamation laws have long drawn criticism from human rights and press freedom groups who say they are abused in order to stifle free speech.