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American Could Get Two Years in Thai Prison for TripAdvisor Review

A cleaner sweeps a field in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Photograph: Mladen Antonov (Getty Pictures)

Anybody planning a visit to Thailand must be suggested to maintain their opinions to themselves. Wesley Barnes, an American residing in Thailand, came upon this month that the Thai defamation legal guidelines may be excessive after a unfavourable on-line overview of a resort landed him behind bars.

In line with the New York Times, Barnes stayed on the Sea View Koh Chang resort in June and obtained right into a dispute with the administration over a $15 corkage price for a bottle of gin that he’d introduced alongside for his keep. After an argument, the resort waived the price, however Barnes claims he later witnessed the identical supervisor he’d quarreled with treating an worker disrespectfully. That was when he made up his thoughts to go away a number of unfavourable critiques on TripAdvisor and Google.

Not less than one among his critiques was faraway from TripAdvisor for violating the journey overview web site’s tips. The submit reportedly accused the resort of working towards “modern-day slavery,” in response to CBS News. The Instances reviews {that a} since-deleted overview additionally warned guests to “Keep away from this place as if it was the Coronavirus!” One other Barnes overview from July nonetheless lives on the lodge’s TripAdvisor page that accuses the supervisor of being “extraordinarily impolite and rude to company.”

The resort claims it tried to contact Barnes to resolve the problem of the critiques that it felt have been out of line. A spokesperson for the lodge advised the Instances that “the visitor refused to reply to our makes an attempt at communication and as a substitute continued to persistently submit unfavourable and unfaithful critiques of our enterprise.” With no different obtainable recourse, the resort filed costs below Thailand’s strict defamation legislation. On the weekend of Sept. 12, Barnes discovered himself in a jail cell on the island of Koh Chang ready for Monday to roll round so he might submit bail. If convicted, the American expat might be dealing with a most sentence of as much as two years in jail.

The story of Barnes’s feud with the resort first got here to the eye of the skin world when the journey blogger Richard Barrow posted about it on Twitter over the weekend. A number of shops have since confirmed the account, and the Instances reviews that the resort instantly discovered itself getting review-bombed by customers angered by the controversy. Opinions posted on Google within the final 24 hours accuse the resort of being “completely disgusting” and straight warn vacationers that criticism of the vacation spot might lead to jail time.

The excellent news for Barnes is that the Streisand Impact is a robust power and the resort does appear open to figuring out a compromise. “We merely need to be certain that these unfaithful critiques are stopped, and we had no method of negotiating the matter with the visitor till after our submitting the grievance with authorities,” a spokesperson advised the Instances.

Final yr, Suchanee Cloitre, a tv journalist, was convicted of libel in Thailand after she reported on migrant employee’s accusations of inhumane working situations on the Thammakaset hen farm. She was finally sentenced to the utmost of two years in jail. Talking with Reuters, the reporter mentioned that she was “shocked” and “didn’t suppose the sentence could be so harsh.”

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Rhett Jones