Tesla claims one of its factories was the victim of 'malicious sabotage'

Tesla has accused individuals of similar acts in the past, although the criminal aspects remain unclear.

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An internal email circulated by Tesla this week and obtained by Bloomberg News asserts that one of its factories in Fremont, California, was "maliciously sabotaged" by an employee, although given its handling of similar situations in the past, it wouldn't be surprising to learn the company is taking liberties with its definition of "sabotage."

Claims of sabotage, with little more to add — On Monday, Tesla's vice president of legal and acting general counsel, Al Prescott, alerted employees in a memo that, "Two weeks ago, our IT and InfoSec teams determined than [sic] an employee had maliciously sabotaged a part of the Factory...[Tesla's] quick actions prevented further damage and production was running smoothly again a few hours later.” According to the email, an unnamed employee first attempted to cover their tracks before blaming another co-worker while attempting to destroy one of the company's computers in the process. "Ultimately, after being shown the irrefutable evidence, the employee confessed. As a result, we terminated employment," reads the email.

Despite the company alert's pretty serious-sounding allegations, there remain a lot of holes left to fill in Tesla's version of events. The message does not appear to indicate any legal actions being undertaken in response to the supposed attack, and as Bloomberg News reports, the Fremont Police Department relayed that they had not been contacted regarding any incidents at the factory. Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's nearby San Francisco branch has not issued any statements on the matter. This doesn't mean the alleged sabotage attempt wasn't serious (Tesla did, in fact, fend off a Russian cyberattack last month) , but it also doesn't confirm anything, either.

A Tripp down memory lane — Our skepticism boils down to one name: Martin Tripp. If the name doesn't ring a bell, allow us to bring you up to speed: Back in 2018, Elon Musk accused former Tesla employee, Tripp, of hacking into and stealing sensitive company data, as well as sabotaging some manufacturing system software at Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada. Tripp has been embroiled in legal battles ever since, and so far courts have largely sided with Tesla in the matter.

That said, to call it "hacking" would require a huge stretch of the term, given that Tripp allegedly already had access to the data he leaked as an employee, not mention said data included proof of the company installing faulty batteries into some of their electric cars, as well as detailing factories' exorbitant amounts of scrap byproducts. Oh, and then there was the little matter of Musk and others "leaking" to the media false accusations that Tripp was planning a mass shooting attack on the Gigafactory facility (even more evidence to maybe not rely on Elon as your sole PR guy).

So yeah, it's probably safe to say an employee did something to anger Tesla higher-ups last month, although there's still far from enough information to properly assess the accused "sabotage."