Elon Musk Files To Get "Pedo" Lawsuit Dropped: "Opinions, Not Facts"

GettyImages-1074388040

GettyImages-1074388040

Elon Musk's lawyers have asked a judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by a British diver who the Tesla chief executive had labelled a "pedo guy", arguing the comments were "just imaginative attacks" protected by the USA constitution's first amendment. Musk and his team developed a small rescue sub to help in the recovery effort, but it didn't end up being used.

Mr Unsworth, who lives in Hertfordshire County north of London, sought at least US$75,000 (S$102,800) in compensatory damages plus unspecified punitive damages in his Sept 17 lawsuit.

In a filing on Wednesday (Dec 26) with the US District Court in Los Angeles, Mr Musk's lawyers said their client's comments about Mr Vernon Unsworth were free speech protected by the United States Constitution's First Amendment even if they lacked any factual basis.

Musk said he took to Twitter to defend the mini-submarine effort because he was "shocked by Unsworth's indefensible and baseless attacks".

Musk's lawyers also characterised Twitter as "a social networking website infamous for invective and hyperbole" and a "rough and tumble" platform.

After the successful rescue in July, which did not involve Musk's mini-submarine, CNN broadcast an interview in which Unsworth described Musk's plan as a "PR stunt" that had "absolutely no chance of working", and said that Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts".

Unsworth's attorney pushed back against Musk's attempt to dismiss the suit.

"Here, the reasonable reader would not have believed that Musk - without having ever met Unsworth, in the midst of a schoolyard spat on social media, and from 8,000 miles afar - was conveying that he was in possession of private knowledge that Unsworth was attracted to children or engaged in sex acts with children".

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Musk did not respond publicly.

He later made similar allegations in an off-the-record email to a Buzzfeed journalist, who went on to publish them. As part of his insults, Musk included a hyperlink to a Google search of "Chiang Rai child trafficking".

"He's an old, single white guy from England who's been travelling or living in Thailand for 30 to 40 years", Musk wrote, adding that Unsworth moved to Thailand "for a child bride who was about 12 years old at the time", according to the lawsuit.

Investor criticism, as usual, forced Musk's hand and he deleted the offending tweets a few days later with a less-than-heartfelt apology, later telling the BuzzFeed reporter he hoped the cave-diver "would f***ing sue him".

"Mr. Unsworth is not a pedophile".

Again, as far as legal motions go, it's a pretty fun read.

Musk previously accused Vernon Unsworth, who aided with the rescue of 12 Thai children trapped in a cave during the summer, of being a pedophile.

By that logic, if I were to tweet, say, "Elon Mush, a man known to hunt people for sport, is an unmedicated goddamn psycho in the midst of a slow-motion breakdown who most recently bawled like a baby on 60 Minutes after the SEC said "no can do" to him being extremely online all the time", that would be fair game.

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