An American national could face up to two years in prison after posting a bad review of a hotel in Thailand.
The hotel in question, the Sea View Resort on Koh Chang island, claims Wesley Barnes launched a barrage of complaints against them after his stay, leaving them with no choice but to initiate legal proceedings.
“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.
Barnes is accused of causing “damage to the reputation of the hotel”, as well as arguing with them during his stay about a corkage fee for alcohol brought to the hotel. He was arrested by immigration officials and returned to Koh Chang for a brief detention, but has since been released on bail.
The hotel alleges that Barnes, who works in Thailand, had posted multiple reviews on different sites over the past few weeks. In one posted in July, he claimed to have encountered “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don’t want anyone here.”
Another post which accused the hotel of “modern day slavery”, was removed by TripAdvisor for violating its guidelines.
The Sea View Resort said they only took legal action to discourage further negative reviews from being posted, and claim to have attempted to contact Barnes beforehand.
“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.”
Thailand has strict anti-defamation laws that have faced condemnation from human rights organisations that argue the laws can be used to stifle free speech.
Those found guilty of defamation face up to two years behind bars and a fine of 200,000 baht ($6320).
Image credits: Booking.com