Tesla chief Elon Musk has been sued by the British cave diver he accused of being a paedophile, weeks after the entrepreneur told a reporter “I fucking hope he sues me.”
Vernon Unsworth, who rescuers say played a pivotal role in the rescue of 12 Thai children trapped inside the Tham Luang cave, filed the defamation lawsuit in California after Musk’s repeated claims.
He is seeking nearly $106,000 in damages.
The lawsuit claims that Musk’s statements, made to his 22.5 million Twitter followers and to a BuzzFeed News reporter, constituted “a PR campaign to destroy Mr. Unsworth’s reputation”.
In case you missed it, Musk ordered his company’s engineers to fabricate a miniature submarine for the July rescue effort.
It went unused, and Unsworth – who did not participate in the rescue dive, but provided vital information about the cave to the rescue team – told CNN the submarine was less than useless.
In response, Musk called Unsworth a “pedo guy” on Twitter. He later apologised, but reignited his claims in subsequent emails to a BuzzFeed News reporter.
In those messages, and in response to claims Unsworth was preparing to undertake legal action, Musk said “I fucking hope he sues me.”
The lawsuit denies all of the claims made against Unsworth, and alleges Musk’s statements “were manufactured out of whole cloth by Musk out of a belief on his part that his wealth and stature allowed him to falsely accuse Mr. Unsworth with impunity simply because Musk disagreed with Mr. Unsworth’s assessment of the viability of the Tube expressed in the CNN Interview.”
It goes on to claim that Musk “intentionally sought to strike out publicly against Mr. Unsworth by damaging his reputation with a salacious and spurious accusation”.
Separate lawsuits are expected to be brought forward in the England and Wales.
Musk has not yet publicly responded to the new lawsuit, but has recently tweeted about occupying Mars.
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