British diver sues Elon Musk for $75,000 over 'pedo' claim

Elon Musk

The defamation lawsuit will extend an episode that has made even Musk's biggest supporters squirm, with several inside Tesla, Musk's electric automaker, questioning why he remains so committed to doubling down on what they consider a self-inflicted embarrassment.

Mr Musk called the Brit "pedo guy" in a tweet to his 22.5 million followers after Mr Unsworth criticised him in a TV interview with CNN about the rescue.

The filing also says Unsworth is seeking "punitive damages" as well as the compensation, "to punish him for his wrongdoing and deter him from repeating such heinous conduct". Unsworth was not made available for comment.

Unsworth is an experienced spelunker who helped save 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand in July. The experienced cave explorer had surveyed the underground system's narrow passageways since shortly after his first visit to the country in 2012. Musk deployed a mini-submarine that he claimed could rescue the entire group, but quickly encountered problems and opposition.

Mr Musk was sued by caver Vernon Unsworth over the comments, for which the Tesla CEO had later apologised.

The Tesla boss and SpaceX engineers built a small submarine and shipped it to Thailand to help with the rescue, but the device was not used, and Mr Unsworth called it a "PR stunt".

Musk was widely criticized for making the unsubstantiated claim that the British diver, Vernon Unsworth, was a pedophile and "child rapist" on Twitter.

Musk initially apologized for his words toward Unsworth, tweeting that his "actions against me do not justify my actions against him", adding that "the fault is mine and mine alone".

But the complaint said that in the August 30 email, Mr Musk urged a BuzzFeed reporter to "stop defending child rapists", and then said Mr Unsworth spent decades in Thailand until moving to Chiang Rai, "renowned for child sex-trafficking", to take a 12-year-old bride. However, he recently tweeted "I f*cking hope he sues me" after another user brought up the case on Twitter. She is a 40-year old owner of a local nail salon.

"Sorry, we've gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell", Musk tweeted in response to a customer who said her Model 3 had been left in a train depot in Salt Lake City among 42 other Tesla cars left there undelivered.

Musk has drawn increased scrutiny in recent months after a series of high-profile incidents.

But on Aug 28, Musk tweeted about Mr Unsworth once again, writing: "You don't think it's unusual he hasn't sued me?" "He surely isn't winning new fans with how he's been acting".

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