American tourist faces prison for negative TripAdvisor review of Thailand hotel

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An American man is facing two years behind bars after penning negative online reviews about a Thailand hotel — including accusing the business of “modern-day slavery,” according to reports.

Wesley Barnes, who works in Thailand, was arrested for allegedly causing damage to the reputation of the Sea View Resort on Koh Chang island, the Telegraph reported.

Barnes allegedly wrote reviews on multiple sites in which he claimed that he dealt with “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don’t want anyone here” during a recent visit to the popular resort destination.

At least one TripAdvisor review that accused the hotel of “modern-day slavery” has been removed for violating the site’s guidelines, the report said.

“The Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the TripAdvisor website,” Koh Chang Police Colonel Thanapon Taemsara told the Agence Frances-Presse.

The hotel said it took legal action against the former guest to prevent more reviews from being posted.

“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.

In addition to the unflattering reviews, Barnes was also accused of fighting with staff over not paying a corkage fee for booze, the report said.

Barnes was taken into custody and returned to Koh Chang, where he was briefly detained before he was released on bail, the outlet reported.

If found guilty, Barnes could face up to two years in prison and a $6,329 (or 200,000 baht) fine, the report said.

He didn’t respond to request for comment, AFP reported.

Thailand is notorious for its anti-defamation laws, which have long been criticized by human rights groups.

In December 2019, a Thai journalist was sentenced to two years in prison for criticizing a chicken farm on Twitter.