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Musk: 'Pedo' Was an Insult, Not a Statement of Fact

Tesla billionaire moves to have defamation suit dismissed
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2018 4:00 PM CST
Elon Musk   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

(Newser) – When Elon Musk called the British diver aiding in the rescue of a Thai soccer team stuck in a flooded cave “pedo guy,” it was an “imaginative attack”—not a statement of fact. And because of that, the Tesla founder’s attorneys argue, a defamation lawsuit filed in September against Musk by Vernon Unsworth should not go forward, USA Today reports. "Musk’s statements cannot reasonably be read as asserting underlying knowledge that Unsworth was a pedophile," reads a motion of dismissal filed in California. “Even if offensive, such speculative insults are by their nature opinion and protected by the First Amendment." Musk targeted Unsworth in July after the diver dismissed Musk’s offer to help in the rescue with a mini submarine and, reportedly, an underwater air tunnel.

Unsworth said the ideas wouldn’t work and it was all a publicity stunt, adding “He can stick his submarine where it hurts.” Musk’s subsequent comments—which included accusations that Unsworth was a “child rapist” bent on taking a child bride—were an attempt to defend the billionaire’s honor and that of his business entities, the motion states, per CNBC. Musk was “shocked by Unsworth’s indefensible and baseless attacks,” court documents say. So he, “took to Twitter—a social networking website infamous for invective and hyperbole—to respond." Unsworth’s lawyer tells CNBC that he believes the suit will go forward, saying “I entirely reject Mr. Musk’s frivolous contention that all statements published on Twitter … are protected speech.” (Read more Elon Musk stories.)

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