Elon Musk confirms abandonment of Twitter takeover citing accusations from ex-employee and whistleblower

Elon Musk seeks to consolidate his case before the trial which will oppose him to Twitter. The billionaire has formally asked the former security chief of Twitter, who recently accused the platform of lies, to provide documents and testify in the legal proceedings against him against the social network. Peiter Zatko’s lawyers have indicated that their client will respond to this request.

In a letter addressed to the leaders of Twitter, the billionaire invoked the accusations made by Peiter Zatko, to justify once again the abandonment of his takeover project. “Allegations relating to certain facts, known to Twitter before or on July 8, 2022, but not disclosed to parties representing Musk before or on that date, have since surfaced and provide additional and distinct reasons for terminating the agreement of takeover,” wrote Mike Ringler, one of Elon Musk’s attorneys, in a letter to Twitter’s chief legal officer dated Monday and made public Tuesday by US stock market watchdog, the SEC. The lawyer for the boss of Tesla specifies that these new elements are, according to him, not necessary to justify the breach of the contract, but constitute additional arguments “in the event that the notice of breach of July 8 was deemed invalid, whatever ‘be the reason’.

In a document sent last month to two American regulators as well as to the Department of Justice, the one who presented himself as a whistleblower, blamed Twitter for its failing cybersecurity. He also accused the leaders of the San Francisco company of having deliberately overestimated publicly the extent of their fight against fake accounts and spam. This last assertion is likely to strengthen the line of defense of Elon Musk, who claims to have given up acquiring Twitter because the company lied to him about the proportion of these fake accounts and spam on the social network.

The entrepreneur and his lawyers handed a summons to Peiter Zatko on Saturday demanding all the documents and communications in his possession relating to “the impact and effects of fake accounts and spam on Twitter’s activity”. The period considered is from January 1, 2019 to the date of receipt of the summons.

The Tesla boss is also seeking the testimony of Peiter Zatko, whom he is summoning for a deposition on September 9 at premises near his New Jersey home. The whistleblower’s lawyers indicated that he would comply with this request.

“Protecting the American Public”

Peiter Zatko “did not alert the relevant authorities to favor Musk or weaken Twitter,” the advice assured, “but to protect the American public and Twitter shareholders.” Elon Musk also wants to obtain the written records of presentations that Peiter Zatko would have made to management concerning the risks of cyberattacks and flaws in Twitter’s computer system.

He also said he was interested in all documents and communications “relating to Twitter’s attempts to hide its security flaws from investors, regulators and the public”, as well as any trace of “illegal activity” within of the society. The dispute between Twitter and Elon Musk must be examined during a trial which will begin on October 17 before a specialized court in Delaware and which must last five days.

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