Seth Rich was a staffer with the Democratic National Committee who worked on voter access projects. In July 2016, he was murdered in the early morning near his Washington home. The case remains unsolved and it is believed by police to have been a botched robbery. However, a number of right-wing pundits have claimed that Rich was the informant that gave WikiLeaks the emails used against Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The story began after WikiLeaks released thousands of internal emails from the DNC several days after Rich died and that WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for the information on his murder. This conspiracy theory fit nicely into the alleged Arkancide conspiracy theory which had follow the Clintons since days of Bill’s presidency. The story mostly died but came back on May 15 when a private investigator claimed to have evidence proving that the theory was true.
Although the investigator has since backtracked on these claims, many right-wing pundits including Fox News’ Sean Hannity and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich continue to report on it. They are claiming that the murder of Seth Rich is the proof that Russia was not behind the email leaks. Fox News has retracted all of its reporting on the theory.
The only evidence that Seth Rich leaked the email is the word of an unknown informant which an unknown connection with the case. There was no evidence that Rich was disgruntled and the emails that were released did not expose illegal activity. Additionally, the intelligence community and cybersecurity professionals have concluded that the emails came to WikiLeaks through Russia.
The investigator has claimed he had sources at the FBI with information linking Seth Rich with WikiLeaks. He claimed that the FBI’s analysis of Rich’s laptop found that he made contact with WikiLeaks. Fox News claimed that an unnamed federal investigator corroborated the investigator’s findings.
Shortly after Fox News published its report, the investigator recanted the story saying that he had not seen the evidence himself and his knowledge of the laptop came from Fox News and not his investigative work.
Kim Dotcom, a convicted hacker from New Zealand, claimed to have evidence to support the theory but has not provided any. There is evidence that hackers are still attempting to break into Rich’s email account and that these hackers work for Dotcom. However, Fox News redacted the story before the interview and Dotcom has said he will not be speaking about the allegations any more.
References and Further Reading
- The baseless claim that slain DNC staffer Seth Rich gave emails to WikiLeaks
- Murder of Seth Rich conspiracy theory
- The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory
- Statement on coverage of Seth Rich murder investigation
- Hannity on Seth Rich coverage: ‘I retracted nothing’