The technician accused of stealing data from Tesla's battery factory in Nevada is countersuing his former employer and CEO Elon Musk for defamation. "Tesla has made several false and defamatory statements about [Martin] Tripp in an effort to discredit him," a lawyer says. The Guardian specifically mentions Musk claiming on June 20 that Tesla "received a call at the Gigafactory that he was going to come back and shoot people." Per CNBC, a Tesla rep added "a friend of Mr. Tripp" claimed he would "shoot the place up." Tripp—who's painted himself as a whistleblower concerned by Tesla's "dangerous" practices, including alleged use of punctured battery cells repaired with glue, per Business Insider—described the claim as "insane." A day later, the local sheriff's department announced "there was no credible threat."
That's because there was no phone call, and if there had been, Tesla acted with "at least negligence" in publicizing the information before investigating, reads Tripp's lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Nevada, per Ars Technica. It further notes Tesla seemed to know Tripp's location during the law enforcement investigation and "provided false information" to authorities when claiming it could "verify" the 40-year-old was "armed." "We're … interested in getting to the bottom of how the story was concocted," a lawyer for Tripp tells the Guardian. Tripp, who denies Tesla's claim that he wrote software used to lift data from factory computers (he says he can't even code), is seeking at least $1 million plus punitive damages for alleged defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. His lawsuit notes he's received "numerous threats" to his safety. (Read more Tesla stories.)