Thai rescue diver sues Musk over ‘pedo’ comments
A BRITISH rescue diver who was instrumental in the rescue of 12 children trapped in a Thailand cave is suing Tesla CEO Elon Musk for defamation.
Vernon Unsworth and his attorneys filed their lawsuit on Monday, arguing that the businessman had crossed a line by repeatedly insisting that Mr Unsworth is a pedophile and "child rapist". Musk did not substantiate his claims against the diver.
Musk originally attacked Mr Unsworth in July, after the diver criticised a mini-submarine that Musk and his engineers built to rescue 12 boys in a Thai youth football team and their coach from a flooded cave system an Chiang Rai province. His first attack called Mr Unsworth a "pedo guy" on Twitter, suggesting that the diver is a paedophile.
Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 18, 2018
The billionaire later publicly apologised, but then called him a paedophile once again in August when he asked on Twitter why he had not been sued if his allegations were untrue.
Musk then sent a series of emails to Buzzfeed News, alleging that Mr Unsworth is a "child rapist" who took a 12-year-old bride. He also claimed that Mr Unsworth had to be asked to leave the cave site during the rescue operations. None of those claims have been substantiated.
"Elon Musk falsely accused Vern Unsworth of being guilty of heinous crimes," Mr Unsworth's lawyer, L Lin Wood, said in a statement provided to the media. "Musk's influence and wealth cannot convert his lies into truth or protect him from accountability for his wrongdoing in a court of law".
A request for comment from Musk and Tesla was not immediately returned.
The whole affair started in July, when the billionaire pledged that he would lead a team of engineers to build a mini-submarine that could make its way through the cramped cave caverns, and eventually bring the boys to safety.
Meanwhile, an international team of diver sand rescue workers worked to bring the boys to safety, and managed to do so on July 10. The mini-submarine was not used in the effort - and at one point Mr Unsworth told CNN that he thought Musk's involvement was a "PR stunt", that the submarine had "absolutely no chance of working", and that Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts".
Elon Musk sent me an email last week. In it, he accused a British cave rescuer of being "a child rapist" who took a "12-year-old bride." He didn't provide any evidence of those claims.— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) September 4, 2018
He also called me a "fucking asshole."https://t.co/EIAjzEJXiY
Musk repsonded two days later, tweeting that Mr Unworth was a pedophile. He said he would make a video of the mini-submarine working to prove his critic wrong.
"Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it," he wrote.
Mr Unsworth's lawyer has said that his client lives in Chiang Rai in Thailand with his 40-year-old significant other. Musk has provided no evidence that Mr Unsworth is a pedophile, and at one point told Tesla investors that he had called him that out of anger.