Elon Musk faces trial over British diver 'pedo' tweet

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The news comes after Vernon Unsworth - who helped in the rescue effort to free the boys from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system last summer - filed a defamation suit in September over Musk's repeated claims that the diver was a paedophile.

A U.S. judge on Friday said Elon Musk must face a defamation lawsuit by a British diver who said he was falsely branded a paedophile and child rapist by the chief executive of electric auto company Tesla Inc.

Unsworth commented at the time that he was considering legal action for defamation, and following a court order submitted on Friday, US District Judge Stephen Wilson has refused Musk's attempt to have the case dismissed.

Mr Unsworth also derided the submarine that Mr Musk had built for a rescue mission, prompting Mr Musk to lash back via his Twitter account, which had 22.5 million followers at the time.

Later he added: "Bet ya a dollar it's true". In a freaky and seemingly baseless string of since-deleted tweets, Musk then accused the diver of being a paedophile - a claim he would continue to double down on over the course of months. He also urged a BuzzFeed News reporter by email to investigate Unsworth and "stop defending child rapists".

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"Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader".

Responding in a series of tweets, Mr Musk elaborated on how the submarine might work and referred to Mr Unsworth as "pedo guy".

In seeking a dismissal, Musk's lawyers said such comments were "imaginative" or "over-the-top" insults that constituted protected opinion under the US First Amendment.

Musk's defence had asserted that "internet speech is unique", effectively arguing that you can't hold communications online to the same standard as spoken or printed words.

Taken together, they allowed Judge Wilson to conclude "There is nothing about the context in which [Musk] made the statements.that would create doubt as to whether [Musk's] statements implied assertions of objective fact".

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