Elon Musk’s legal team threw some allegations against Twitter in a recent filing, with the Tesla CEO’s camp alleging that the social media company had ordered whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, its former head of security, to destroy evidence as part of his severance package.
Even before his employment at Twitter, Zatko was already known as a seasoned hacker and one of the most respected veterans in the cybersecurity industry. In his whistleblower complaint, Zatko accused Twitter of several shortcomings in the handling of user’s personal data, among others. Twitter, however, has argued that it fired Zatko over poor performance and that his whistleblower complaint was a false narrative.
According to unsealed court documents, Zatko noted that as part of a severance agreement, Twitter managers had ordered him to destroy ten handwritten notebooks and delete 100 computer files. The documents reportedly had notes from Zatko’s meetings with Twitter associates during his tenure as the company’s security chief, according to a Bloomberg News report.
“Twitter’s attempt to buy Mr. Zatko’s silence failed, but Twitter achieved its secondary aim of ensuring Mr. Zatko’s corroborating evidence would never come to light,” Musk’s lawyers noted in the unsealed filings. Twitter’s legal team has so far not issued a response to the recent allegations of the Musk camp.
Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick of the Delaware Chancery Court put Musk and Twitter’s case on hold last week. She also gave Musk and Twitter until October 28 to complete their deal. Musk’s attorneys are now requesting that McCormick sanction Twitter’s lawyers for ordering the destruction of potential evidence in the case.
Pieter Zatko has become a central component of Musk’s arguments that Twitter had misled him about a variety of operational issues at the social media site, which, in turn, justified his decision to back out of his $44 billion buyout of the company. Musk changed course last week, however, when he consented to purchase Twitter at a price of $54.20 per share. Twitter, for its part, has not dropped its lawsuit against Musk so far, but the company has noted that it intends to close the deal at $54.20 per share.