Elon Musk is sued by cave rescuer over ‘pedo guy’ remark

Vernon Unsworth drew wrath of SpaceX founder after he said a mini-submarine Musk had built to help rescue children was “a PR stunt”

FILE PHOTO: British caver Vernon Unsworth looks to Tham Luang cave complex during a search for members of an under-16 soccer team and their coach, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, June 27, 2018.  REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File Photo
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Elon Musk was sued for defamation by an English caver involved in the rescue of a Thai boys soccer team trapped in a flooded cave. Mr Musk had called the rescuer a paedophile on Twitter and subsequently implied he was engaged in child sex trafficking in an email to a journalist.

Vernon Unsworth drew Mr Musk’s wrath after he told CNN that a mini-submarine that he had built and brought to the cave to help rescue the children in July was “a PR stunt” and “had absolutely no chance of working.” Mr Unsworth’s comment prompted a series of tweets by Mr Musk, including on July 15 when he said, “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”


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Mr Musk apologised for the “pedo” comment in two subsequent tweets, but the war of words erupted again last month, according to Mr Unsworth’s lawsuit, when Mr Musk implied in an email to a journalist that Mr Unsworth was a child rapist and engaged in child sex trafficking.

Representatives of Tesla, one of Mr Musk's companies, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Musk on the allegations. The complaint was filed on Monday in federal court in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile Mr Musk revealed on Tuesday that a Japanese billionaire and online fashion tycoon will be the first man to fly on his SpaceX rocket around the Moon as early as 2023.

As head of SpaceX, Mr Musk announced that Yusaku Maezawa, 42, would be the first lunar traveller since the last US Apollo mission in 1972.

"He stepped forward," Mr Musk said. "We are honoured that he chose us."

Mr Maezawa is the chief executive of Japan's largest online fashion mall, and is the 18th richest person in Japan with a fortune of $3 billion, according to the business magazine Forbes.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the Moon," he said at SpaceX headquarters and rocket factory in Hawthorne, California on Monday. "This is my lifelong dream."

The tycoon's other hobby is amassing valuable works of modern art.  Last year he announced the acquisition of a Jean-Michel Basquiat masterpiece worth $110.5 million.

His love of art led him to decide to invite six to eight artists to come along, he said, "to inspire the dreamer in all of us".

Mr Musk said he would not reveal the price Mr Maezawa paid for the Moon trip, but said it would be "free for the artists."