American could face jail for negative review of Thailand hotel

Beach, Koh Chang, Thailand, Southeastern Asia. (Photo by: Luca Picciau/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

An American man may face two years behind bars over bad internet reviews of a Thailand hotel.

Wesley Barnes is being sued by Sea View Resort after penning a negative post with a one-star review on Tripadvisor, the AFP reported. The Koh Chang island hotel claims that the man has written multiple reviews across different sites, denouncing its business.  Although a U.S. citizen, Barnes lives in Thailand.

"The staff was not friendly. Nobody could smile,” a Tripadvisor review by Barnes reportedly said, according to a screenshot travel blogger Richard Barrow tweeted on Saturday. “The restaurant manager was very rude and full of himself. He is from the Czech Republic. There are other hotels with better-friendlier staff. Avoid this place as if it was the coronavirus!"

Colonel Thanapon Taemsara of the Koh Chang police confirmed that the hotel would be pressing charges, with Barnes accused of damaging Sea View’s reputation and arguing with staff about not wanting to pay a corkage fee for alcohol he brought to the resort restaurant.

Officials for Sea View said that they are suing Barnes because he has slammed the resort on multiple websites.

Thailand’s anti-defamation laws have long drawn the ire of human rights groups; if Barnes is sentenced, he could be sent to two years in prison and fined about $6,315.

A spokesperson for Tripadvisor says the company is investigating the incident.