An American professor who was arrested in Thailand for writing a harsh review about a hotel managed to avoid the hefty fine and jail term he faced under the country’s defamation laws.
American Wesley Barnes had published several reviews allegedly accusing the Sea View Koh Chang hotel of “modern slavery.” After that, he was arrested for allegedly violating Thailand’s strict anti-defamation laws.
Barnes, who works in Thailand, reported that he had a disagreement with a restaurant manager over a 500 baht ($ 22) fee for uncorking a bottle of gin.
However, it is now reported that Barnes has managed to reach an agreement with Koh Chang, which includes a public apology to the hotel and to Thailand’s tourism authorities.
He also had to send a statement to foreign media, who previously wrote about his possible arrest.
Barnes apologized for his “repeated false and misleading statements … made to maliciously defame Sea View. These criticisms were written with anger and malice.”
The statement also said that he regretted his actions, adding that “the hotel has forgiven me and agreed to withdraw the complaint.” If convicted, Barnes could face up to two years in prison and a $ 4,475 fine.
Thailand’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic.
“Receiving multiple false and defamatory reviews over a period of time can be extremely damaging, especially during these incredibly difficult times,” the hotel’s statement states.
Additionally, hotel representatives reported that they attempted to contact Barnes before taking legal action against him. However, the man ignored his statements and in the end only reacted to the notification by the authorities about the complaint that was made against him.
“We have chosen to report him as a deterrent because we understood that he could continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future,” commented hotel representatives.