- Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, received an email in early May from someone who was “looking for a job.”
- The sender was a former Twitter executive. Other details suggest it may have been Peiter “Mudge” Zatko.
- The judge overseeing Twitter’s case against Musk said it “makes sense” that Zatko was the sender.
A person whose description matches Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko emailed Elon Musk’s personal lawyer asking for a job just days before the billionaire announced he was pulling out of his takeover of the company.
Some of the email’s contents were revealed in an affidavit filed Wednesday by Alex Spiro, Musk’s longtime lawyer who was part of the troubled $44 billion deal.
The email, sent on May 6 from a ProtonMail account “Twitter TransitionTeamX” offered to “support Elon’s transition to Twitter” looking for a job,” according to the affidavit. It also offered to “contact via alternate secure means” and said that the sender was a “former executive on top Twitter teams directly involved in Trust & Safety/Content Moderation”.
Zatko spent a year as Twitter’s chief information security officer, though he did not directly oversee Trust & Safety and Content Moderation. A spokesman for Whistleblower Aid, the law firm representing Zatko, declined to comment.
Spiro said in the deposition, an affidavit, that he did not read the email and “did not contact the sender of this email in any way, nor did he make any attempt to do so.”
On May 14, Musk announced on Twitter that the platform’s market was “on hold” pending more information about how “robots” or inauthentic accounts are counted. It began weeks of tenuous back-and-forth that eventually led to Musk sending a letter in early July to end the deal. The deal is now back.
Zatko first filed his whistleblower complaint in June and made it public in late August. Among several claims, Zatko said Twitter misled Musk about the number of fake accounts on the platform.
While the affidavit does not include the email itself or specifically say it came from Zatko, it makes clear that Spiro’s statement about the email comes as a result of seeking any communication between Zatko and Musk or his associates before the Twitter. the whistleblower’s disclosures to Congress; The affidavit also launches into an explanation for the lack of contact between Spiro and Zatko, with the attorney saying he knew nothing about the whistleblower’s allegations before they became public.
Musk and Twitter’s legal teams recently sparred over the email during pre-trial discovery in the takeover legal battle. Shortly before Musk decided this week to renew his offer to acquire Twitter at the original price, Judge Kathleen McCormick ruled that his legal team’s attempt to exclude the email from discovery was unfounded, The Verge reported.
“The timing and content of the May 6 email make it at least plausible that Zatko was the author,” Judge McCormick said in a ruling.
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Contact Grace Kay at [email protected]