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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

US man to avoid jail over negative review of Thai resort

The American expat, Wesley Barnes, wrote a scathing review of his experience staying at the Sea View resort on Koh Chang island in June, accusing the hotel of “modern day slavery”. In another review he complained of “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don't want anyone here”.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | October 9, 2020 11:48:57 am
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A US man, who was detained for writing a negative review of a resort in Thailand, will now avoid legal action and potential jail time. Thai Police said that the man and the resort’s management were able to reach an agreement, which includes an apology both to the hotel as well as to the country’s tourism authority.

The American expat, Wesley Barnes, had in June written a scathing review of his experience staying at the Sea View resort on Koh Chang island, accusing the hotel of “modern day slavery”. In another review, he had complained of “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don’t want anyone here”, AFP reported.

Following this, the resort sued Barnes and he was subsequently detained and charged under Thailand’s strict anti-defamation laws, which carries a maximum two-year sentence along with a 200,000 baht ($6,300) fine.

The Koh Chang police station superintendent, Colonel Kitti Maleehuan, told AFP that Barnes and the resort’s management were able to broker an agreement on Thursday after a mediation session overseen by the police.

According to Maleehuan, Barnes agreed “to comply with proposals from the hotel”. Apart from issuing a formal apology to the resort, its staff and the Tourism Authority, he will also have to provide an explanation to the US embassy.

In an earlier statement, the hotel had claimed that Barnes had “caused a commotion” and had refused to pay a corkage fee for bringing his own bottle of gin to one of the resort’s restaurants, BBC reported. The manager eventually intervened and the fee was waived.

The hotel has claimed that his reviews were “fabricated, recurrent, and malicious”. The management told BBC that they received several cancellations and phone calls from concerned customers about employee treatment.

Barnes had earlier told BBC that he had lost his job due to the incident and was worried that the negative news would make it more difficult for him to find new employment.

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