Martin Tripp says he's a whistleblower and filed suit over alleged defamation based on statements by Musk and Tesla
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By Glenn Fleishman
July 31, 2018

In June, Tesla founder Elon Musk and company spokespeople made a series of statements alleging sabotage and potential threats by an ex-employee, and then sued him. That individual, Martin Tripp, countersued today, alleging defamation. Tripp, who said he has acted as a whistleblower, denied all of Musk and Tesla’s allegations. Tripp said last month that damaged batteries had been installed in Tesla Model 3 cars.

On June 17, Musk sent an email late that night to employees claiming a former worker “had conducted extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations.” He suggested a fire was suspicious as well. Tesla sued Tripp on June 20, accusing him of breaking into computer systems, stealing confidential photos and videos and making false statements, alleging it was because he was disgruntled about not being promoted.

On June 21, Tesla told Fortune and other publications that “a friend of Mr. Tripp” had called and said that “Mr. Tripp would be coming to the Gigafactory to ‘shoot the place up.’” The local sheriff’s office later said it found no credible threat. There’s been no subsequent information about the call.

Tripp’s lawsuit points to many different statements by the company and its founder. One of his attorneys, Robert Mitchell, told The Guardian, “There were very suspicious, very contradictory stories that were advanced by Tesla.” Mitchell said that Tesla “has made numerous, highly-publicized false and defamatory statements about Mr. Tripp to the media” in a statement to The Verge.

The suit alleges in part that Tesla never received a threatening call, and restates several claims Tripp previously made about internal manufacturing processes.

Tesla has not responded to Fortune‘s request for comment.

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