Elon Musk has revived the controversy over comments he made in July about a British spelunker involved in the Thai cave rescue mission.
The Tesla (TSLA) chief executive said in a tweet late Tuesday that it was “strange” that cave diver Vernon Unsworth had not sued him for calling Unsworth a “pedo guy” on Twitter.
Unsworth had criticized Musk’s idea to save a now-rescued boys’ soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand by using a mini-submarine crafted out of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket part. The Briton at the time said Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts.”
The cave diver said shortly after Musk’s remarks in July that he was considering taking legal action against the billionaire. Tesla shares fell more than 3 percent that day.
Musk issued an apology to Unsworth days after he made the baseless accusation that the British explorer was a pedophile. In two posts on Twitter, the Tesla boss said he made the claim in “anger” and that the diver’s criticism of his submarine proposal did not warrant such a retaliation.
But the billionaire entrepreneur on Wednesday doubled down on his claim about Unsworth, questioning why the diver did not proceed with legal action against him.
Musk said that Unsworth had been “offered free legal services.” Arguing with a Twitter user who brought up the debacle, Musk repeatedly questioned why his comments about the diver had not been investigated.
Representatives for Musk’s companies Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company were not immediately available for comment.
The Tesla chief’s leadership has come into question over the past few months, especially after he surprised investors by announcing he wanted to take the electric car manufacturer private — only to then make a U-turn .
Musk’s interventions in public matters have drawn both praise from fans and scrutiny from detractors who think he should concentrate on his work at Tesla.
After South Australia was hit with a state-wide power outage in 2016, Musk promised in March 2017 to build the world’s largest lithium ion battery factory within 100 days to address heightened energy demand. He delivered on that promise , starting construction in September last year and finishing in November, beating the 100-day deadline.
And not long after his involvement in the mission to free the trapped Thai boys and their soccer coach, Musk offered to help Flint, Michigan, with its water contamination crisis. Flint was exposed to lead contamination after the city switched its drinking water in 2014 without sufficient water treatment. Musk committed to “fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA (Food and Drug Administration) levels.”
The executive’s presence on Twitter has also been a point of contention. Musk addressed his feuds on the platform last month. “I have made the mistaken assumption — and I will attempt to be better at this — of thinking that because somebody is on Twitter and is attacking me that it is open season,” he said in a question-and-answer with Bloomberg. “That is my mistake. I will correct it.”
Bearish traders have questioned whether the automaker can turn a corner from its cash burning and reach profitability as it struggles to scale production. Tesla surpassed a self-imposed production goal of 5,000 cars-a-week at the start of July. Worries remain over potential shortcuts taken to reach that target, such as eliminating brake tests in the final days of the production process.
Tesla currently has a market capitalization of more than $53 billion, on par with that of General Motors (GM).