American could face prison in Thailand over bad resort review

An American has been sued by a resort in Thailand after posting a negative TripAdvisor review. He could face up to two years in prison if he is found guilty.

The Sea View Resort in Koh Chang accused Wesley Barnes of “a slanderous campaign” over the review, and filed a police complaint under the country’s defamation laws.

Barnes was accused of causing “damage to the reputation of the hotel”, and of quarrelling with staff over not paying corkage fee for alcohol brought to the hotel.

Barnes, who works in Thailand, was arrested by immigration police and returned to Koh Chang earlier this month. He was held in detention for two nights before he was released on bail.

The man stayed at the resort in June.

In his TripAdvisor review posted in July, Barnes said he encountered “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don’t want anyone here”.

The Sea View Resort said that it took legal action after Barnes posted several negative comments online.

Defamation is a criminal offence in Thailand, carrying a maximum sentence of two years in prison, along with a 200,000 baht (€5,404) fine. Rights groups have long warned that the law is draconian, and that it has been abused to silence activists and journalists.