A hotel in Thailand has agreed to drop charges against an American man who faces up to five years in jail for posting negative Tripadvisor reviews, so long as he issues a public apology for his comments.
The Sea View Koh Chang hotel, which is found on the holiday island of Koh Chang, had filed a complaint against American teacher Wesley Barnes in August, Reuters reported, after he posted what the hotel said were false and defamatory write-ups.
This reportedly came after a disagreement over a 500 baht ($22) corkage fee.
According to Reuters, police had detained Barnes under criminal defamation and computer crime laws for two days in September before he was released on bail.
“Under conditions that Mr Barnes shows his sincerity and takes full responsibility for what had happened and remedy the situation, the hotel will be delighted to drop the charge,” the Sea View Koh Chang hotel told Reuters.
With multiple reports on the strange incident, the case brought new scrutiny to Thailand’s defamation and computer crime laws, which human rights activists told Reuters are too harsh and sweeping.
Under the laws, Barnes could be fined up to 100,000 baht ($4,490) and be jailed for up to five years. However, prior reports indicated Barnes could face two years imprisonment.
The hotel now wants Barnes to send statements to the media, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the US Embassy and Tripadvisor this month, apologising and explaining that his poor reviews were written in anger.
The hotel said Barnes had agreed, while Barnes told Reuters he would be issuing a statement.
“I’m sending an email to many media outlets,” Barnes said, but declined to elaborate.
Featured image source: Sea View Resort