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Musk's 'pedo guy' tweet humiliated me, caver tells US court

LOS ANGELES : A British caver who was labelled "pedo guy" by Tesla co-founder Elon Musk said he felt "humiliated" and "dirtied" by the tech billionaire's accusation, and that it amounted to "a life sentence".

Speaking on Wednesday, the second day of a trial to determine whether Mr Musk's comment constituted defamation, Mr Vernon Unsworth said Mr Musk's tweet referring to him as "pedo guy" had branded him as a paedophile.

"It's disgusting," he told the court, his voice quivering. "I feel humiliated, shamed, dirtied. Effectively from day one, I was given a life sentence without parole."

Mr Unsworth, who helped rescue youth football players trapped in a cave in Thailand, told the court that Mr Musk's Twitter rant had resulted in his name being associated with paedophilia.

Their highly-publicised row erupted in July 2018 after the British caver dismissed Mr Musk's proposal to build a mini-submarine to rescue the boys stuck in the cave as a "PR stunt".

He also said Mr Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts".

Their lawyers have been going over the meaning of the term "pedo guy," which Mr Musk claims was a common insult in South Africa, where he grew up, and meant nothing more than "creepy old man."

He testified he was just reacting to Mr Unsworth's "unprovoked" comments about him when he published the tweet.

Mr Musk also referred to Mr Unsworth in an e-mail messages as a "child rapist".

APOLOGISED

He apologised to Mr Unsworth several times during his testimony and insisted his "pedo guy" tweet did not mean he was accusing the caver of being a paedophile.

"Pedo guy is more flippant than pedo, especially in the context I used in the tweet," Mr Musk told the court. "It's obviously an insult, no one interpreted it as meaning he was actually a paedophile."

Mr Unsworth, who lives in Britain and Thailand, is seeking unspecified damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress.

His testimony was set to continue today. - AFP

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