HomeIndian AmericanSikh American whistleblower sues Elon Musk for defamation

Sikh American whistleblower sues Elon Musk for defamation

Photo of Elon Musk via Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel Oberhaus

Tweets and messages considered hateful by an Indian American student prompted him to sue Tesla CEO Elon Musk for defamation, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

Musk allegedly defamed the defendant, Randeep Hothi, in an email to a web editor which was published on Twitter, Courthouse News Service reports. Hothi sued Musk Tuesday, but the case was only made public Friday. 

Hothi runs a Twitter account under the username @skabooshka which “fact-checked Musk and Telsa’s published claims regarding the electric vehicle manufacturer’s automation, technology and production processes,” according to Courthouse News Service.

The account has been a “thorn in Musk’s side,” according to Los Angeles Times. 

In the email regarding Tesla’s actions against whistleblowers, Musk discusses an Apr. 2019 attempt by Tesla to file a restraining order against Hothi. The case was dropped when the judge ordered the company to produce video evidence, Courthouse News Service Reports.  

Musk said Hothi “almost killed Tesla employees,” according to Courthouse News Service. The tech mogul accused Hothi of sideswiping a Tesla employee in his car, an incident that “could easily have been a death with 6 inches of difference.” 

But Hothi alleges that the incident never occurred, the Los Angeles Times reports. Hothi said he only saw a Tesla test car and followed it to take photos for his account. 

According to India New England News, Hothi, a University of Michigan doctoral candidate in Asian languages and cultures, created @skabooshka as a “social experiment” for his doctorate work. 

His UMich bio expresses his interest in “how minority communities -specifically diasporic Sikhs- creatively respond to the world around them,” India New England News reports. 

Hothi, who is Sikh himself and wears a turban has been accused of being a terrorist, according to Courthouse News Service. 

His attorney, D. Gill Sperlein, said Musk’s email has resulted in “troubling, racist chatter.”

“Some people contacted his thesis adviser at the University of Michigan saying he was attempting to murder people,” Sperlein said, according to Courthouse News Service. 

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