Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the executive with a “Don’t Hold Back” sticker placed atop every one of his phone and computer screens, didn’t need to poke the bear last night. It seems there’s already a libel suit being loaded into the chamber, ready to fire in his direction.
In a Twitter exchange he could easily have avoided by tidying up around the house, preparing a wholesome snack, getting this owner the repairs he’s been waiting six months for, or perhaps reading one of Lee Iacocca or Bob Lutz’s books, Musk suggested, once again, that a British diver he’s already apologized to is a pedophile, again without offering evidence.
Asking why Vernon Unsworth hasn’t filed a lawsuit against him, Musk then practically dared the cave rescuer to sue. He’ll probably get his wish, especially after last night’s antics.
The digital ink was barely dry on Musk’s tweets when BuzzFeed News got its hands on a letter sent from Unsworth’s lawyers to Musk’s home. Dated August 6th, the letter explains that Unsworth has retained legal counsel and is in the process of “preparing a civil complaint for libel.”
Claiming Musk’s comments were “false” and “defamatory,” Atlanta-based lawyer L. Lin Wood wrote, “You published through three different tweets to your twenty-two million followers that Mr. Unsworth engages in the sexual exploitation of Thai children, and you did so at a time when he was working to save the lives of twelve Thai children. You did so without any basis. According to a subsequent Twitter post, you did so out of anger.”
Though Unsworth, 63, was not physically involved in the rescuing of a Thai soccer team trapped in a flooded cave last month, his background in cave diving was essential in crafting their rescue. Still, Musk later told BuzzFeed, “Have you actually done any research at all?” adding, “For example, you incorrectly state that he is a diver, which shows that you know essentially nothing and have not even bothered to research basic facts.”
BuzzFeed since confirmed that the British cave explorer and diver is indeed a diver, and owns much diving equipment. Musk did say whether he received the letter from Unsworth’s lawyer.
At the time of publication, Tesla’s stock had fallen 2.3 percent in Wednesday trading.
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