Thai Hotel Puts American in Jail: Gets New Label on Tripadvisor

Just another fine establishment in the ‘hospitality’ industry!

Note to self…..

Stay the fuck outta Thailand!

source: New York Times

The travel review website has posted a one-of-a-kind notice on the hotel’s page, warning tourists that it was responsible for the jailing of a guest who wrote a harsh review.

The resort hotel in Thailand got its public apology. The unhappy American guest who spent two nights in jail for criticizing the hotel online got his criminal charges dropped. But it was Tripadvisor, the giant online travel review platform, that got the last word.

Wesley Barnes, the American traveler who was arrested after being charged with criminal defamation for posting critical reviews of the Sea View resort on the island of Koh Chang, quietly left Thailand this week.

With Mr. Barnes safely out of the country, Tripadvisor took punitive action on Wednesday against the resort, posting a one-of-a-kind notice on the Sea View’s page warning travelers that the hotel was behind the jailing of a guest for his harsh reviews.

“This hotel or individuals associated with this hotel filed criminal charges against a Tripadvisor user in relation to the traveler writing and posting online reviews…….The reviewer spent time in jail as a result.”


The dispute between the resort and its guest began over a $15 corkage fee, but turned into a clash between American principles of free speech and Thailand’s far-reaching laws that limit expression and are used to stifle criticism of businesses, the government and the monarchy.

Tripadvisor’s business model is based on the idea that everyone has “the right to write,” said Bradford Young, vice president and associate general counsel.

“This is the first case we are aware of where a Tripadvisor member spent time in jail as a result of a review they posted to our website.”

Bradford Young
VP/Associate General Councel

After the warning notice was posted, the hotel said it was “deeply disappointed” and asserted that “the warning message from Tripadvisor is extremely misleading and lacks complete information.”

While Thailand is seen as one of the world’s most tourist-friendly places, its anti-speech arsenal includes laws against criminal defamation, improper online content, sedition, contempt of court and insulting the monarchy. That law, known as lèse-majesté, can bring a 15-year prison sentence.

“Thailand’s use of criminal defamation is really off the charts.”

Phil Robertson
Human Rights Watch

“It seems like the Asian notion of ‘saving face’ has really been taken to heart by Thais who don’t hesitate to head to court over the smallest perceived slight or insult. If Thailand would simply decriminalize defamation, making it a purely civil law matter, this would create a major change in Thai society overnight.”

Thai Hotel That Put American in Jail Gets New Label on Tripadvisor

Calamity Jane