British cave diver Vernon Unsworth, who was instrumental in saving the lives of 12 schoolboys and their football coach who were stranded in a cave in Thailand for over 10 days in July, on Monday sued SpaceX and Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk for defamation, BBC reported.

In an email to Buzzfeed last month, Musk called the diver a “child rapist” who had moved to Thailand to marry a child. In July, Musk had called him a “pedo” on Twitter and later apologised for it. Unsworth had then said he was considering legal action against Musk.

The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Columbia, seeks $75,000 (approximately Rs 54.4 lakh) as damages and an injunction against Musk to stop repeating the allegations. Unsworth is seeking punitive damages as well as compensation, the filing says, “to punish him [Musk] for his wrongdoing and deter him from repeating such heinous conduct”.

The cave diver’s lawyers accused Musk of embarking on a campaign “to destroy” Unsworth’s reputation “by publishing false and heinous accusations of criminality”, according to The New York Times.

“Musk’s influence and wealth cannot convert his lies into truth or protect him from accountability for his wrongdoing in a court of law,” one of the diver’s lawyers, L Lin Wood, said.

Musk has not yet responded to the lawsuit.