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Tesla’s Musk Sued For Defamation

Musk urged a BuzzFeed reporter to "stop defending child rapists," and then said Unsworth spent decades in Thailand until moving to Chiang Rai.

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Elon Musk, tesla, tunnel
AI could be first 'resident' of Mars, hints Musk. (Wikimedia Commons)

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, was sued for defamation on Monday for falsely suggesting that a British caver who helped save 12 boys and their soccer coach from a Thailand cave in July was a pedophile and child rapist.

Vernon Unsworth sued over Musk’s reference to him in a July 15 tweet as a “pedo guy,” a comment for which Musk later apologized. The suit also claims that Musk called Unsworth a child rapist and sex trafficker in an Aug. 30 email to BuzzFeed News.

Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Musk and the company.

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Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. Wikimedia.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeks at least $75,000 of compensatory damages, plus unspecified punitive damages.

The case adds to a slew of litigation against Musk, including over his running of Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which the billionaire has said has caused him severe stress.

Unsworth became a target for Musk after cave rescuers rejected Musk’s offer of a mini-submarine created by his rocket company SpaceX to rescue the soccer team, which was finally freed after 18 days in the cave on July 10.

Though Unsworth told CNN three days later Musk’s offer was a “PR stunt” that had no chance of working and that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts,” he said that did not justify Musk’s use of Twitter and the media to defame him.

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Thai cave rescue: Extraction of remaining soccer team members

The July 15 tweet by Musk touted the mini-submarine and then, referring to Unsworth with a shorthand description of pedophile, said, “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”

Musk apologized on July 18, referring to Unsworth in saying “his actions against me do not justify my actions against him,” and that “the fault is mine and mine alone.”

But the complaint said that in the August 30 email, Musk urged a BuzzFeed reporter to “stop defending child rapists,” and then said Unsworth spent decades in Thailand until moving to Chiang Rai, “renowned for child sex-trafficking,” to take a 12-year-old bride.

Also Read: Elon Musk Apologises To UK Driver For Calling Him a ‘Pedo’

Unsworth said all of these accusations were false, and that the defamatory 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” because he disagreed with him about the mini-submarine.

The case is Unsworth v Musk, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 18-08048. (VOA)

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Top Investor of Tesla Wants Elon Musk to Step Down as CEO

Earlier in February, the SEC again held Musk in contempt of court for allegedly violating a previous public disclosure settlement

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Visitors inspect Tesla electric cars at Brussels Motor Show, Belgium, Jan. 18, 2019. VOA

A top investor in the electric car maker Tesla has stressed that Elon Musk should step down as CEO as his irresponsible tweets can do the company more harm than good.

James Anderson from the UK-based investment management firm Ballie Gifford, which holds a 7.5 per cent stake in Tesla, told a German magazine that he “does not think Elon needs to be CEO”.

“His micro-management also includes the desire to speak to the stock market and the world in ways we do not necessarily consider helpful,” Anderson, who knows Musk personally, told Germany’s Manager magazine on Thursday.

His comments referred to Musk’s fondness for controversial midnight tweets that has already forced him to step down as Tesla Chairman.

Musk reached a settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over his controversial Twitter activities in April, agreeing to have more specific oversight on his tweets about the company.

Tesla CEO Elon musk, board
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (VOA)

According to the settlement, all tweets from Musk about Tesla’s financial health, sales or delivery numbers would have to be pre-approved by a company lawyer.

The SEC sued Musk last year as well for making fraudulent statements after he tweeted in August 2018 that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 per share.

Also Read: Google Disables 210 China-backed YouTube Channels

The parties later settled and Musk agreed to step down as Chairman and have the company’s lawyers pre-approve written communications, including tweets with material information about the company.

Earlier in February, the SEC again held Musk in contempt of court for allegedly violating a previous public disclosure settlement. (IANS)