Kim Dotcom released a surprise series of tweets after private investigator Rod Wheeler backpedaled on his claims that he had evidence that Seth Rich was the WikiLeaks source. Dotcom is now saying that he knows Seth Rich was the WikiLeaks source, because he was involved in the whole thing. So far he hasn’t provided evidence for these statements, but Dotcom said on Twitter that he will give an official statement with more details on Tuesday after he consults with his attorneys.
Seth Rich was shot and killed on July 10 at 4:15 a.m. His murder remains unsolved and there were no suspects or eyewitnesses. Police have said it may have been an attempted robbery, but his wallet and credit cards weren’t taken. Rich worked for the DNC as a data analyst and was the DNC’s Voter Expansion Data Director at the time of his death.
Here’s what you need to know.
In a Series of Tweets, Kim Dotcom Said Seth Rich Was the WikiLeaks Source and He Helped
Dotcom released a series of tweets revealing that he believes Seth Rich was WikiLeaks’ source for the DNC emails. It started out with a tweet on May 19, in which he shared that if Congress decided to include Seth Rich in their Russian probe case, he’ll give written testimony and evidence that Seth Rich was the WikiLeaks source.
Immediately people wanted to know how he knows this. Dotcom pointed to a statement he made back in May 2015 that Julian Assange was going to be Clinton’s “worst nightmare” in 2016. At the time, he was responding to a question about a tweet he made in December 2014 when he said that he was going to be Clinton’s worst nightmare. “I have to say it’s probably more Julian,” he said, explaining his tweet. “But I’m aware of some things that are going to be roadblocks for her,” he told Bloomberg.
Now, Dotcom is hinting on Twitter that he had this knowledge because of his work with Rich:
Sean Hannity later tweeted to Dotcom, asking if he had evidence. And Doctom responded: “I’m the evidence!”
He clarified, emphasizing that he knew Seth Rich was the source, and that Dotcom was involved, somehow, in the leaks himself:
Dotcom then said that he will be releasing a statement about this on Tuesday. He said that he needs to consult his legal team before he reveals any additional information. So, up to this point, he hasn’t provided evidence to back up his claims.
Dotcom lives in New Zealand and is fighting charges from the United States of copyright infringement. Hillary Clinton signed the extradition request, and Dotcom is very open about his distaste for the Clintons and the Democrats.
In February, The Guardian reported that a New Zealand high court had ruled that Dotcom’s extradition to the U.S. could go ahead. A professor from Harvard Law School had previously shared why he believed that extradition shouldn’t go forward (which you can read here.)
Dotcom is a German-Finnish Internet entrepreneur who originally founded Megaupload, which ran from 2005 to 2012. It was a file hosting and sharing online service. The U.S. Justice Department accused him of copyright infringement, among other things, after Megaupload closed. In 2013, Dotcom launched Mega, a cloud storage service that uses encryption to prevent third-party spies from invading privacy. Dotcom promotes a whitepaper about the case, written by Robert Amsterdam and Ira Rothken, here. The United States’ case against Dotcom is unresolved at this point.
Dotcom’s Announcement Came After Rod Wheeler Retracted His Claims about Rich & WikiLeaks
Dotcom’s announcement came on the heels of Rod Wheeler, a private investigator and Fox analyst, backpedaling on all his statements claiming that Rich was the WikiLeaks source. Fox 5 published a story with quotes from Wheeler saying that Rich had emailed WikiLeaks before his death, that evidence was on Rich’s computer, and a confidential source from within the DC police had told him that the investigation was being slowed down. (The DC police did not respond to a request from Heavy for more information about these claims.)
Seth Rich’s family immediately blasted Wheeler for the statements, saying that he was hired by a third party and had signed a contract that he would not disclose anything without permission from the family. They said they doubted Wheeler’s claims and had seen no evidence themselves of anything. They also threatened to possibly sue Wheeler for his statements.
Wheeler later backtracked completely, telling CNN that he had no evidence about Rich and WikiLeaks, and was merely repeating things that Fox had said. It was strange, considering that when a Fox reporter had asked him if FBI sources had said there was information linking Rich to WikiLeaks, Wheeler responded: “Absolutely. That’s confirmed.” According to Fox he also said: “My investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks.”
But later, he recanted everything. He told BuzzFeed he had no personal knowledge about an email between Rich and WikiLeaks. “That story on Fox 5 last night was inaccurate. I don’t even know where the computers are.” He said he only knew about the emails because of a Fox story by Malia Zimmerman, which stated an anonymous federal investigator was claiming Rich had sent emails to WikiLeaks. He later went on TV and told Sean Hannity that he had no evidence about emails to WikiLeaks, but then added:
Some Doubt Dotcom’s Claim about Rich Because of Past Disappointments
You can find all sorts of theories about Rich’s death online, ranging from Russia killing him to the DNC being involved to a random robbery on a dangerous street where other robberies also recently occurred. The people who are promoting the DNC theory have expressed some doubt about Dotcom’s statements because they’ve felt disappointed in the past, thinking he was going to release important information and then he did not. You can see some of the skepticism on Reddit here.
Some of the skepticism dates back to the campaign. When Trump supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters were eager for information about the DNC, they were frequently disappointed, feeling that Julian Assange and Kim Dotcom, among others, were promising information and not delivering. A tweet by Dotcom in July prompted some of these feelings:
Some interpreted this as a promise from Dotcom that he knew something about her server being hacked and was going to release emails. However, others have posited that it might have been more of a hopeful statement based on his dislike of the Clintons rather than a statement that he actually had the emails.
Dotcom also tweeted multiple times about the NSA having Clinton’s emails, such as here:
It didn’t appear, however, that he was claiming he had them or that he knew they were going to be released. Merely that if a federal investigator wanted them, they might be able to ask the NSA.
Whether Dotcom has evidence about Seth Rich like he said or not, we don’t know. Time will tell and we will likely know more come Tuesday after he speaks with his attorneys and releases an official statement.
Assange and WikiLeaks Have a Policy of Not Revealing Sources, Even After Death
We will likely never hear from WikiLeaks definitively if Seth Rich was or was not their DNC source. WikiLeaks has a very strict policy of never revealing sources, even if the sources die. However, Assange has made some statements and taken actions that led some people to believe he may have been hinting Rich was the source. Others think it’s misdirection or an attempt to gain attention based on something in the news. The motive behind his statements will always be open to interpretation, since WikiLeaks does not confirm or deny sources.
These are some of the things WikiLeaks has done that some people interpreted as hints about Rich, but are open to interpretation based on what you believe are WikiLeaks’ motives.
1. Assange’s Interview with Hannity in January
In an interview with Sean Hannity in January, Assange reiterated that despite rumors to the contrary, WikiLeaks did not get any of its information on the DNC or Podesta from Russia. Assange pointed out that even the joint analysis report that came out from several intelligence agencies on December 29, 2016 never mentioned WikiLeaks by name. Assange said this was because they didn’t have any evidence that WikiLeaks was working with Russia, because they were not. He later went on to say that as far as WikiLeaks’ source, “there is one person in the world — and I think it’s actually only one — who knows exactly what is going on with our publications… And that’s me.” (He said that around the 7:00 mark in the interview below.)
Some read a lot into Assange’s statement. They said that the source of the WikiLeaks DNC leak would know that Russia wasn’t involved. But since Assange said that he is the only person in the world to know, then the source of the leaks must be dead. However, others thought that was taking things way too far. They thought Assange was talking about how WikiLeaks works in general and who they coordinate with, and he’s the only person in the world who knows all the underpinnings of WikiLeaks’ operations.
Here’s the full interview:
Other statements that viewers pointed out as possible “clues” in the interview include Assange speaking around 16:16 in the video, stating that he does not want to clarify who the source is, whether it is within the U.S., within the DNC, a service provider of the DNC, or outside of the U.S. Some thought this to pointed to Rich, who provided services to the DNC. But others said that Assange was simply listing all possibilities.
The bottom line is that there was no concrete evidence provided in Assange’s interview with Hannity that Rich was the source. In fact, Assange was very careful to repeatedly say that he was not going to reveal the source and he only wanted to make clear that the information was not from the Russian government or a state actor.
2. Assange Retweeted Fox 5’s Story about Seth Rich
Shortly after Fox 5 DC released their story about Seth Rich (which Wheeler later recanted), Assange retweeted the story.
It’s hard to know how to interpret Assange’s retweet. It’s possible that he was only sharing the story because it was about WikiLeaks, not as a way to confirm or deny Rich as the source. Others, however, believed that it is definitely a sign. This includes Daniel Clark, who is running for Congress in 2018 with the Green Party. Here’s the Facebook post below, or you can read it here.
Clark believes WikiLeaks’ releases, because he was in one of them, when the DNC was keeping track of Bernie Sanders’ delegates, including him:
What we know for certain is that Assange has said over and over that Russia was not the source. In a mid-December radio interview with Sean Hannity, Assange asserted again that their DNC emails and Podesta emails didn’t originate from Russian hackers. Hannity asked him, “Russia did not give you the Podesta documents are anything from the DNC?” And Assange responded, “That’s correct.”
3. After an Associate of Assange Said a DNC Insider was the Source, WikiLeaks said He Was Not Authorized to Speak for Them
On December 14, just a day before Assange’s interview, Craig Murray, a close associate of Assange, said that he had received one of WikiLeaks’ sources, The Washington Times reported. He said that he was given a package near American University, in a wooded area, that was the source of some of the Clinton emails. He said the source was a Democratic insider who had legal access to the information. Murray said he was prompted to make the revelation after seeing claims that WikiLeaks’ source came from Russia.
The sources, he said, were disgusted with corruption in Clinton’s campaign and the sabotage of Bernie Sanders, Inquistr reported. Murray is a former British ambassador who was removed because of allegations of misconduct, after he was highly critical of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan.
Whether Murray’s statement is true is not known. But WikiLeaks did not respond encouragingly. The next day, WikiLeaks’ Twitter account stated that only Assange, Sarah Harrison, and sometimes their lawyers are authorized to speak for WikiLeaks. That list does not include Murray.
4. WikiLeaks Offered a $20,000 Reward for Information Leading to a Conviction in Rich’s Murder
WikiLeaks also offered a $20,000 reward for any information that leads to a conviction. Some have guessed that this concern is a hint about WikiLeaks’ involvement, but others say it’s only because of the theories surrounding Rich’s death.
5. Assange Talked About Rich in an Interview About the Risks Sources Take
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… I am suggesting that our sources, ah, take risks and they, they become concerned to see things occurring like that…”
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. … 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.”
Shortly after this interview, WikiLeaks reiterated that it never confirms or denies sources.
Seth Rich’s Family Has a Crowdfunder to Help with the Unsolved Case
Many theories have been raised about Rich’s death. They include the theory from police that he died because of a robbery gone wrong. His family believes he fought back and that’s why nothing of his was taken. Then there’s the theory that he was killed because of leaking information to the DNC, of which there’s no solid evidence. There was also a theory that he was killed by the Russians because he realized that the leak came from them, according to Republican lobbyist Jake Burkman — there’s also no evidence for this one. So far there has been no concrete evidence for any of the theories.
In the end, Rich’s murder remains unsolved, which is a tragedy for his family who needs peace and closure. Rich’s family has asked people who are concerned to donate to their crowdfunder, because they no longer trust Private Investigators to do what is right without political motivations. They’ve been burned by both sides.
Tuesday may bring more information about Rich, depending on what Kim Dotcom has to share and what evidence he has to provide. We’ll learn more when he releases his statement. Check back to this story then, when we share the latest updates.
Do you believe Kim Dotcom? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.