NEARLY a year after the unexplained murder of a Democratic National Committee staffer, a private investigator claims he has uncovered key information.
Seth Rich, 27, was fatally shot in the back in the early morning hours of July 10, 2016 while walking to his apartment in Washington DC.
His violent killing sparked several conspiracy theories, with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suggesting Rich was gunned down because he was a “source”.
Now private investigator Rod Wheeler, who was reportedly hired by the victim’s family, said Rich had multiple contacts with WikiLeaks before his death.
He said there was evidence on Rich’s laptop that confirms he was communicating with the whistleblower group.
“The police department nor the FBI have been forthcoming,” Wheeler told Fox 5. “They haven’t been co-operating at all. I believe that the answer to solving his death lies on that computer, which I believe is either at the police department or either at the FBI. I have been told both.”
He added: “I have a source inside the police department that has looked at me straight in the eye and said, ‘Rod, we were told to stand down on this case and I can’t share any information with you.’
“Now, that is highly unusual for a murder investigation, especially from a police department. Again, I don’t think it comes from the chief’s office, but I do believe there is a correlation between the mayor’s office and the DNC and that is the information that will come out [on Tuesday].”
ANNOUNCE: WikiLeaks has decided to issue a US$20k reward for information leading to conviction for the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 9, 2016
Separately, a federal investigator, who reviewed an FBI forensic report detailing the contents of Rich’s computer generated within 96 hours of his murder, said Rich made contact with WikiLeaks through Gavin MacFadyen, a now-deceased American investigative reporter and director of WikiLeaks.
He told Fox News Rich had leaked thousands of emails to WikiLeaks.
“I have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks,” the federal investigator said.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 11, 2016
However Rich’s family has strongly refuted the claims.
“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,” spokesman Brad Bauman told BuzzFeed News in an emailed statement.
A month after the grisly murder, Assange told Dutch TV that Rich was killed for being a “source”.
“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks. As a 27-year-old, works for the DNC, was shot in the back, murdered just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington,” Assange said.
The interviewer followed up by asking, “That was just a robbery, I believe. Wasn’t it?”
Assange cryptically replied, “No, there’s no finding … I’m suggesting that our sources take risks.”
WikiLeaks last year released a trove of stolen emails from top-level staffers at the DNC involved with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The revelations in the emails led to resignations of the chair of the DNC, as well as top staff members.
In the interview, Assange refused to confirm Rich was a source.
“Why make the suggestion about a young guy being shot in the streets of Washington?” the interviewer asked.
“Because we have to understand how high the stakes are in the United States,” Assange replied. “Our sources face serious risks. That’s why they come to us. So we can protect their anonymity.”
At the time of his son’s death, Joel Rich ruled out robbery in an interview with KMTV.
“If it was a robbery, it failed, because he still had his watch, he still had his money, he still had his credit cards, still had his phone, so it was a wasted effort except we lost a life,” he said.
Assange claims that online surveillance is causing a crisis of democracy and a serious threat to civil rights and, as a result, we need greater control of agencies that spy on us. How real is this and what do the experts say?