The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk testified at his defamation trial on December 3 and said that his 'pedo guy' tweet was in response to an 'unprovoked' insult by the man who was suing him. The high-tech entrepreneur also said that the tweet which is the centre of the trial against him was not meant to be taken literally. The 48-year-old billionaire even apologised to the plaintiff from the witness stand in the Los Angeles court. A lawsuit was filed against Musk by the British cave diver who gained popularity for playing a significant role in rescuing 12 boys along with their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand in 2018.
The diver, Vernon Unsworth has accused the SpaceX CEO of falsely labelling him a paedophile on Twitter and is currently seeking unspecified punitive along with other money damages. Musk's questioning by Unsworth's lawyer was reportedly seated by five women and three men jurors. The SpaceX CEO insisted that the tweet being scrutinised was his reaction to an 'unprovoked attack' on what was a good-natured attempt to help the kids stuck in a flooded cave. Musk further said that the statement made by the diver was 'wrong and insulting', therefore he insulted him back.
Tesla CEO thought that Unsworth was 'some random creepy guy' which was not related to the rescue of the kids. On being questioned further, the 48-year-old said that he did not mean Unsworth was a paedophile in the similar way the diver did not mean to 'sodomize' Musk with a submarine. And then, saying that he had already apologised for his tweet, he again said 'sorry' while reportedly looking directly at the plaintiff. Unsworth is required to show that Musk was negligent in publishing a falsehood which clearly identified the plaintiff and also caused him harm. The US District Judge Stephen Wilson explained that the case depends on whether a reasonable person would take Tesla CEO's tweet to mean that he was calling the diver a paedophile.
Last year in June, the 12-membered junior soccer team entered the Tham Luang cave along with their coach but got trapped due to monsoon flooding. A massive search operation was started after the incident and they were finally located by British divers on an elevated rock, about 4 kilometres from the mouth of the cave. However, during the rescue operation, Musk had offered Unsworth a mini-submarine from his SpaceX company but the latter rejected the offer calling it a “PR stunt”. He went on to say that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts.” Musk lambasted the British expatriate in a series of tweets and ended up calling him a “pedo guy”, widely interpreted as a reference to a paedophile. The SpaceX CEO later deleted the tweet and apologised for the comment but disputed its meaning.