But Tripp, who says he became a whistleblower after seeing what he called dangerous conditions in the company's car batteries, told The Washington Post he had said no such thing. Confirmed emails exchanged that day between him and Musk, provided to The Post and confirmed by Tesla, show bitter words from both men, but also Tripp saying he had "never made a threat." Tesla's claims, he said, are "absurd! Insane is a better word."
The sheriff's office in Storey County, where the Gigafactory is located, said Thursday that it had received information of a threat to security at the Gigafactory on Wednesday but determined "after several hours of investigation . . . there was no credible threat." Sheriff Gerald Antinoro said that names of all involved parties will be withheld while the investigation is ongoing. Tesla said it is increasing security at the Gigafactory as a precaution.
The showdown has exposed a deep rancor in a tech giant that has become infamous for its head-turning cars, high-pressure workloads - and Musk, its unyielding boss. It also marks a new depth of suspicions from Musk, who recently sent company-wide emails urging workers to stay vigilant against shadowy "outside forces," saying, "Only the paranoid survive."
It's rare for any major company, let alone one worth roughly $60 billion, to allow its internal warfare to play out in such a public way. It's even more rare for a billionaire leader like Musk - currently leading efforts to build self-driving cars, underground super-tunnels and advanced spacecraft - to serve as a soldier in the charge.
But the emails show Musk duking it out with Tripp, calling him a "horrible human being" who should be "ashamed" of himself and face "legal penalties."
Tesla's lawsuit, filed Wednesday in a Nevada federal court, accuses Tripp of hacking the company's computer systems in order to steal confidential photos and video of Tesla's manufacturing systems and other trade secrets. The suit also accuses him of giving false information to journalists, being "disruptive and combative" in the workplace and attempting to rope other co-workers into his scheme.
Tesla refuted Tripp's claims to being a whistleblower and said his claims are exaggerated or misconstrued. The company said no punctured batteries were ever used in Model 3 vehicles and that Musk accurately reported the cars' production numbers.
The Post could find no criminal charges against Tripp. In 2007, he was the victim in a domestic incident in Michigan.
Tripp said he was visited by sheriff's deputies Tuesday night about the threat allegations. He is seeking an attorney and official whistleblower protections. He said he and his family have temporarily vacated their home after their address was posted online.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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