WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange gave an interview to Dutch television in which he discussed the Seth Rich murder case in Washington D.C. and would not confirm or deny whether Rich was a WikiLeaks’ source.
However, the Mueller Report, released on April 18, says the hacking was done by the Russian government, not by Seth Rich, and accuses Assange of falsely implying that Rich was behind the hacking. You can read that report here. The Rich mention comes on page 48. The report alleges that Assange and WikiLeaks tried to “obscure” the real source of the hacks – the Russian government.
WikiLeaks, as a matter of practice, does not confirm or deny its sources. The comments made by Assange – coming shortly before WikiLeaks announced a $20,000 reward in the Rich case – are drawing new attention to the homicide of the young DNC analyst.
Rich, a data analyst with the Democratic National Committee, was gunned down in an unsolved murder case in early July. U.S. officials and some data experts have said Russian intelligence might be behind the hack. A hacktivist named “Guccifer 2.0” has also claimed responsibility for the DNC hack.
Some are interpreting the interview Assange gave with NOS, a major public broadcast company in the Netherlands, as admitting that Rich was a WikiLeaks’ source. However, what Assange actually said is more nuanced and open to interpretation. Shortly after the interview, WikiLeaks announced that it was offering a $20,000 for information leading to a conviction in the Rich case.
Rich’s family, through a spokesman, released a statement after Assange’s remarks and the reward and asked the public to stop spreading “unproven” and “harmful” theories about Rich’s death, said Business Insider. The statement also asked people to stop politicizing the tragedy.
Fox News has now retracted a story on Rich and WikiLeaks story, writing:
“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.”
What did Assange really say? You can see the videotaped interview, which was conducted in English on Aug. 8, here (the Rich comments are in the second video posted with the story):
This is a full transcript of that portion of the interview:
Assange: “Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material, often very significant risks. There’s a 27-year-old that works for the DNC who was shot in the back, murdered, just two weeks ago, for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington. So…”
Anchor: “That was just a robbery, I believe, wasn’t it?”
Assange: “No, there’s no finding. So, ah – “
Anchor: “What are you suggesting? What are you suggesting?”
Assange: “I am suggesting that our sources, ah, take risks and they, they become concerned to see things occurring like that.”
Anchor: “But was he one of your sources then, I mean?”
Assange: “We don’t comment on who our sources are.”
Anchor: “But why make the suggestion about a young guy being shot in the streets of Washington?”
Assange: “Because we have to understand how high the stakes are in the United States. Our sources, ah, our sources face serious risks, that’s why they come to us so we can protect, ah, their anonymity.”
Anchor: “But it’s quite something to suggest a murder. That’s basically what you are doing.”
Assange: “Well, others have suggested that. We investigated to understand what happened in that situation, with Seth Rich. I think it is a concerning situation. There is not a conclusion yet. We wouldn’t be willing to say a conclusion yet, but we are concerned about it. More importantly, a variety of WikiLeaks sources are concerned when that kind of thing happens.”
WikiLeaks later put out a statement clarifying its position on Rich:
The reward from WikiLeaks was on top of a previous reward already announced in the Rich case: