Elon Musk has apologised to the British cave diver he labelled “pedo guy”.
Mr Musk suggested that he was still hurt after the diver, Vern Unsworth, had mocked him over his attempt to build a tiny submarine to bring the boys out of the cave. But he said that did not excuse the bizarre and angry insults he launched at the diver in the wake of the rescue.
The SpaceX and Tesla boss said that he apologised to his own companies as well as to the diver for the tweets.
The bitter fallout between the pair began when Mr Musk travelled to the Tham Luang caverns in Chiang Rai, while the rescue operation to save the Thai boys was still ongoing. He presented rescue workers with a specially built “kid-sized” submarine that he claimed would allow the children to be saved.
But the plan was rejected by the chief of the rescue mission, who described it as “not practical”. Mr Musk then attacked Narongsak Osatanakorn over the comment, saying he did not have the expertise to decide.
After that, cave diver Vern Unsworth – who was central to the discovery and rescue of the Thai boys – said in an interview that Mr Musk’s submarine was just a “PR stunt”, and that it ”had absolutely no chance of working” because the billionaire “had no conception of what the cave passage was like”. He said Mr Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts”.
Mr Musk then attacked Mr Unsworth on his Twitter page, claimed it was suspect that Mr Unsworth lived in Thailand, labelled him “pedo guy” apparently without any grounds at all and suggested that the diver had invited the attack on himself.
Now the Tesla founder has said that the bizarre tweets were posted because he was hurt by Mr Unsworth’s jokes. But he admitted that the attacks were wrong and apologised both to the diver and to his companies.
“My words were spoken in anger after Mr Unsworth said several untruths & suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologise to Mr Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader,” he continued. ”The fault is mine and mine alone.”
Mr Musk had initially doubled down on the tweets, despite intense criticism. “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true,” he wrote to one user who questioned him over the posts.
But soon after they went up, Mr Musk deleted the tweets and then went completely silent. Shareholders in Tesla had demanded he apologise, arguing that the posts could undermine the work of the company.