Elon Musk to face trial over 'pedo' claim against rescue diver

Elon Musk to face trial over 'pedo' claim against rescue diver

Tesla CEO Elon Musk will have to go to trial to defend himself for mocking a British diver as a pedophile in a verbal sparring match that unfolded last summer after the underwater rescue of youth soccer players trapped in a Thailand cave.

US District Judge Stephen Wilson said that "reasonable fact-finder could easily conclude that [Musk's] statements... implied assertions of objective facts" referring to Musk's now-deleted tweets and emails to BuzzFeed News that claimed the plaintiff, Vernon Unsworth, was a paedophile, The Verge reported on Friday citing court filings.

Musk later called Unsworth "pedo guy" on Twitter, a comment for which he apologised.

In an interview with CNN, Mr Unsworth called Mr Musk's efforts a "publicity stunt". It was never used.

Mr Unsworth helped recruit experienced United Kingdom cave divers, who were instrumental in freeing the boys who had become stuck in the cave due to rising water levels in July 2018. In a freakish and seemingly baseless string of since-deleted tweets, Musk then accused the diver of being a paedophile - a claim he would continue to double down on over the course of months.

In September 2018, Mr Unsworth sued Mr Musk for libel and slander and alleged that Mr Musk began a campaign to destroy his reputation "by publishing false and heinous accusations of criminality against him to the public".

In an email to a Buzzfeed reporter, he implored the journalist to "find out what's actually going on" and suggested the diver had taken no part in the cave rescue.

In his lawsuit, Unsworth has requested at least $75,000 in compensatory damages plus punitive damages from Musk.

Mr Musk contended his insult was protected from legal action, but the judge overseeing the case disagreed.

Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., speaks during an unveiling event for the Boring Co.

Unsworth's court order also seeks to stop Musk making any further negative comments about the diver.

But the judge said Musk was not communicating in "heated and volatile" settings that might explain any excesses.

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