After a dizzying week of unsubstantiated claims and anonymous rumors, it’s time to look at what we actually know about Seth Rich’s murder.
On Tuesday May 16, Fox5 in Washington D.C. released a report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was in contact with WikiLeaks prior to his murder in July 2016. The report claimed a private investigator hired by Rich’s family has found tangible evidence of a connection to Rich and WikiLeaks. According to D.C. police, Rich was shot twice in the back as part of a botched robbery in D.C.’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. He has been suspected as the possible source for the DNC leaks which began last summer during the presidential campaign.
The news report was quickly debunked or hailed as proof (depending on where or if you fall along the left/right political paradigm) of Rich’s connection to the leaks. Wheeler initially stated he had seen evidence “on Rich’s laptop that confirms he was communicating with WikiLeaks prior to his death.” However, within 48 hours Wheeler backed off his claims, at one point telling CNN, “I only got that [information] from the reporter at Fox News.”
Only days after Wheeler backed off his claims, Fox News officially denounced the story promoted by Wheeler and an apparent “anonymous federal investigator.” Fox News writes:
On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed. We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.
The New York Times and other deadstream outlets were quick to point the finger on various “far right” and “conspiracy theory” websites for reporting on the developments. The Times claimed “Mr. Assange was trying to protect his reputation” and that Alex Jones, the founder of Infowars, is trying to sell more Fluoride Shield supplement.
Meanwhile, Seth Rich’s parents and brother released statements asking researchers to drop the case. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, the Riches accuse media outlets of using their son’s memory for their own political gain. “We ask those purveying falsehoods to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder,” they wrote.
Aaron Rich, Seth’s brother, also wrote a letter to Porter Berry, executive producer of “Hannity,” demanding that he force host Sean Hannity to stop promoting theories about his brother’s death. “As the family, we would hope to be the first people to learn about any such evidence and reasons for Seth’s death,” Aaron Rich wrote in the letter which was viewed by CNN. “It is a travesty that you would prompt false conspiracy theories and other people’s agendas rather than work with the family to learn the truth.”
The pleas from the family and the retraction of the Fox story did not slow down the pursuit for more information related to Seth Rich’s murder. The continued interest in the story was due in part to statements made last week and over the weekend by Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom. Dotcom tweeted that he had evidence tying Seth Rich to WikiLeaks. He tweeted, “If Congress includes
#SethRich case into their Russia probe I’ll give written testimony with evidence that Seth Rich was @Wikileaks source.” Dotcom then promised to release a full statement on Tuesday after conferring with his legal team.
The statement was released on Tuesday as promised, but it provided no new information and only further fueled the abundant speculation into whether or not Seth Rich was connected to WikiLeaks in any way. “I KNOW THAT SETH RICH WAS INVOLVED IN THE DNC LEAK,” read a statement on Kim.com.” I know this because in late 2014 a person contacted me about helping me to start a branch of the Internet Party in the United States. He called himself Panda. I now know that Panda was Seth Rich.”
Dotcom goes on to claim that “Panda” was working on voter analytics tools and wanted to change the political system from within. He said that he would be willing to provide a full statement in person to the U.S. Congress upon receiving a guarantee from Special Counsel Mueller that he would be allowed to travel unmolested from New Zealand to the United States.
Dotcom’s less than revealing statement was met with a mix of hope, disappointment, and attacks from establishment media. The Washington Post published a story accusing him of attempting to hack Seth Rich’s Gmail account to plant false evidence of a WikiLeaks connection.
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) May 24, 2017
The Post stated that Seth Rich’s Gmail account received a new alert in the last week from Mega.com, a website created by Kim Dotcom. “The latest revelation — that a hacker from New Zealand may have been trying as recently as this week to hack into Rich’s email — offered fresh evidence that the conspiracy theory is false,” The Post writes. “Dotcom, it seemed, may have been willing to create a fake archive of emails from Rich to “prove” his role in the DNC hack.”
Dotcom responded with his own open letter warning the Rich family and spokesman not to defame his name in their attempt to silence researchers. “I remain prepared to assist in the investigation, as I have said. While I want to show understanding to the family in this difficult time, I also maintain that what I have said is true and will be substantiated upon investigation.” Dotcom addressed what he called false statements from WaPo and Fox News. Dotcom continues to tweet about Seth Rich and is calling for a crowdfunded investigation into his death.
Make a simple, easy website to educate folks about #SethRich.
Submit to me via DM
Best site wins $1000
I’ll get some celebrities involved.
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 26, 2017
Kim Dotcom also encouraged his followers to support Texas Representative Blake Farenthold, “the lawmaker who has called for a real investigation into the murder of #SethRich.” Activist Post will continue to post developments if they come.
At this point it’s important to recognize that the only piece of “evidence” which point towards Seth Rich being involved with the DNC leaks and WikiLeaks rest on a couple of curious comments from Julian Assange and Twitter chat logs that are purported to have taken place between Robbin Young, a former Playboy model and actress, and the apparent hacker behind the leaks, Guccifer 2.0. In these direct messages Young and Gufficer converse about the origin of the DNC leaks. Readers should note that these messages have not been independently verified, but they can be viewed in their entirety on Young’s website.
We are left with the statement from Dotcom, comments from Assange, a discredited report, and unconfirmed chat logs. It is possible Rod Wheeler and Fox were threatened and told to stop reporting on Rich’s murder. Possible, yet lacking in evidence. There are still loose threads to be explored by researchers with the skill, time, and resources. For the rest of us, it may be important to focus on the fact that the U.S. government still has not conclusively proved that the 2016 Presidential Election was “hacked” by the Russian government.