Seth Rich WikiLeaks Claim: Family Criticizes ‘Fake Facts’

Seth Rich, DNC

DNC staffer, Seth Rich, in his DNC profile picture. (LinkedIn/Seth Rich)

The family of murdered DNC data analyst Seth Rich is pushing back at a private investigator’s now recanted claim that there is any evidence showing Rich was in contact with WikiLeaks before he died.

However, the Mueller Report, released on April 18, says the hacking was done by the Russian government, not by Seth Rich, and accuses WikiLeaks’ co-founder Julian 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.

The private investigator, Rod Wheeler, gave an interview to Fox 5 in Washington D.C. on May 15 making the sensational claim, although he did not produce any evidence and said he’d heard about it from an unnamed source. The Rich family, in a statement published by NBC News, said it has seen “no evidence” and was a “family committed to facts” not “fake evidence.” According to the New York Times, the Rich family is demanding retractions from Fox.

The family also said Wheeler was paid for by a third-party and was contractually obliged to not comment in the media about the case without the family’s permission.

The family’s spokesman, Brad Bauman, is a partner at the Pastorum Group, a crisis communication firm that works with progressive causes. WikiLeaks was quick to point this out:

According to UK Daily Mail, Wheeler recanted his comments, and Rich’s family sent the private investigator “a cease and desist letter threatening legal action.”

According to NBC News, a lawyer for the Rich family sent a letter to Wheeler that said, “Your statements and actions have caused, and continue to cause, the Family severe mental anguish and emotional distress. Your behavior appears to have been deliberate, intentional, outrageous, and in patent disregard of the Agreement and the obvious damage and suffering it would cause the Family. Your improper and unauthorized statements, many of which are false and have no basis in fact, have also injured the memory and reputation of Seth Rich and have defamed and injured the reputation and standing of the members of the Family.”

Fox has now retracted story on Rich and WikiLeaks, 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.”

NBC News reported of Wheeler, “Wheeler has since completely recanted his story, both in the press and in a private message to Rich’s family. The private investigator told other outlets the Fox reporter essentially put words in his mouth by giving him information that he then repeated in an on-camera interview.” Although the family has asked for an apology and retraction from Fox 5, none has been granted thus far, reported NBC.

Newsweek has now reported that the FBI is not investigating the Rich murder, and is quoting the private investigator as denying he has any firsthand knowledge.

Washington D.C. Metropolitan police public affairs told Heavy on August 9: “At this time, there is no indication that Seth Rich’s death is connected to his employment at the DNC. However, we welcome information that could potentially lead to the identification of the individual(s) responsible for his death and are pleased when any outside contributors help us generate new leads.”

The developments were the latest in the unsolved 2016 murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Rich, who was shot in a Washington D.C. street and whose death has spawned a year’s worth of Internet conspiracy theories. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears to have at times helped fuel the conspiracy theories with past statements on Rich.

“As we’ve seen through the past year of unsubstantiated claims, we see no facts, we have seen no evidence, we have been approached with no emails and only learned about this when contacted by the press,” the Rich family statement said. It continued:

Even if tomorrow, an email was found, it is not a high enough bar of evidence to prove any interactions as emails can be altered and we’ve seen that those interested in pushing conspiracies will stop at nothing to do so. We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth’s murderers. The services of the private investigator who spoke to press was offered to the Rich family and paid for by a third party, and contractually was barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family.

Rich’s family previously indicated that the murder may have stemmed from a robbery.

Wheeler has stepped back from the Fox 5 account he initially gave that provoked the family’s statement, now telling Fox News that he had no personal knowledge and said, “I don’t know for sure, I don’t know as a matter of fact…” He told Buzzfeed that the Fox 5 account was not accurate.

Shortly after the report about Wheeler’s claims, a Twitter account in the name of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange retweeted the Fox 5 story on Wheeler without comment. The unverified account has 174,000 followers.

WikiLeaks is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in Rich’s death (that’s in addition to a previous $25,000 reward being offered in the case).

Rich, 27, who worked for the DNC on voting issues and whose murder was highlighted by Hillary Clinton in a speech, was shot and killed in Washington D.C., and his murder remains mysterious. “Police have found little information to explain his death,” said The New York Daily News.

Conspiracy theories rage about Rich’s death because of his DNC employment and also the lack of an obvious motive, eyewitnesses, or any publicly announced suspects in the case. Rich, 27, was shot on July 10, 2016 at 4:15 in the morning near a Washington D.C. neighborhood where he lived, said CBS News.

In the Rich homicide case, The Washington Post wrote on July 11: “Police said they have no suspects, witnesses or motive, though they are looking at whether Rich could have been slain in an attempted robbery.”

Washington D.C. Metropolitan police public affairs told Heavy on August 9: “At this time, there is no indication that Seth Rich’s death is connected to his employment at the DNC. However, we welcome information that could potentially lead to the identification of the individual(s) responsible for his death and are pleased when any outside contributors help us generate new leads.”

Numerous news sites, such as NBC, have reported that government officials and security firms believe that Russian intelligence was behind the DNC leak; WikiLeaks denies being tied to Russian intelligence but won’t reveal its sources for the emails, which, among other things, appeared to show DNC officials favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the primary. The FBI is now investigating whether Trump campaign officials colluded with alleged Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.

You can read more about the case here: