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Elon Musk wants defamation suit tossed, says 'pedo' tweet on cave diver was not fact

Musk said in his motion that his Twitter rant against one of the divers who rescued boys in a Thai cave “was just imaginative attacks” protected by the First Amendment.
Image: Elon Musk speaks at an event for The Boring Company Hawthorne test tunnel in Hawthorne, California, on Dec. 18, 2018.
Elon Musk speaks at an event for The Boring Company Hawthorne test tunnel in Hawthorne, California, on Dec. 18, 2018.Robyn Beck / Pool / Getty Images

Elon Musk wants a defamation lawsuit against him tossed, arguing that when he called one of the divers who rescued boys trapped in a Thai cave a “pedo,” it was meant as an insult and not a statement of fact.

British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth filed the lawsuit against the Tesla chief executive in federal court in Los Angeles in September after Musk called Unsworth a “pedo guy” during a Twitter rant in July.

Unsworth, 63, denied he was a pedophile and said that Musk's comments "were published with actual malice,” a key factor for proving defamation in the United States.

Musk, however, said in his motion Wednesday to have the lawsuit dismissed that his Twitter tirade “was just imaginative attacks” and are “protected by the First Amendment.”

“Even if offensive, such speculative insults are by their nature opinion,” the motion stated.

The motion went on to say that the "over-the-top insults are not statements of fact," but were rather "intended as a means of ridiculing” Unsworth.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO launched the attack against Unsworth in July, apparently in response to the diver attacking Musk's efforts to help rescue 12 Thai boys and their 25-year-old coach who got trapped in a cave June 23 when a flash flood blocked the entrance.

The boys and their coach were rescued the next month. Musk assisted with the expedition by building a mini-submarine, but Unsworth said in a CNN interview that the device Musk and his team built was a "PR stunt" and had "absolutely no chance of working." Unsworth said during the interview that Musk could stick the submarine "where it hurts."

Musk responded in a series of tweets saying he never saw Unsworth in the caves during the rescue mission, and calling him a "pedo guy." Musk later deleted the tweet.