According to officials, the FBI is not investigating the connection between DNC staff member Seth Rich and WikiLeaks after conspiracy theories begin to arise suggesting the slain staffer had ties to the organization based on interviews with private detective Rod Wheeler who was looking into the unsolved murder.
As part of an interview with Fox 5 DC, Wheeler was part of an exchange where the reporter asked if any sources at the FBI were stating there was evidence that Rich was linked to WikiLeaks. Wheeler replied, “Absolutely. Yeah. That’s confirmed.”
During an appearance on Fox News’ show “Hannity,” Wheeler stated a “federal investigator that was involved on the inside of the case” had seen evidence on Rich’s computer and within the case file that demonstrated that “perhaps there were some email communications between Seth and WikiLeaks.”
It was claimed the investigator had knowledge of a forensic report that showed contact was made with Gavin MacFayden, the then director of WikiLeaks. Supposedly, 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments were transferred from Rich to MacFadyen, the exact number of documents that were ultimately posted on WikiLeaks by late July.
Wheeler claimed to be speaking on behalf of Rich’s family, a point the family denies and ultimately leading them to send a cease and desist letter regarding Wheeler’s activities.
Wheeler has since backtracked on these comments, but not before other news sources reported the information. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich spoke about the conspiracy theory during a Fox News Sunday interview just a few days after the original interviews with Wheeler.
Speaking during the interview, Gingrich said, “At the same time we have this very strange story now of this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee who apparently was assassinated at 4:00 in the morning having given WikiLeaks something like 23,000, I’m sorry, 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments.” He went on to say, “Nobody is investigating that, and what does that tell you about what is going on, because it turns out it wasn’t the Russians, it was this young guy who I suspect was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee.”
“He’s been killed, and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder,” said Gingrich.
As reported by ABC News, an official with knowledge of the case stated the FBI is not investigating a connection between Rich and WikiLeaks and that the FBI had determined the death was possibly related to an “attempted robbery” gone wrong.
The official went on to say that the only place he’d seen the connection being discussed was “through the conspiracy theories online.”
Theories about the connected between Rich and WikiLeaks were fueled when Julian Assange suggested Rich may have had a role in the email scandal and offered a $20,000 reward to anyone who could provide additional information about his murder.
During an interview on the Dutch television show Nieuswuur, Assange said, “Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material, and often very significant risk,” continuing, “There’s a 27-year-old who works for the NC who was shot in the back, murdered.”
Assange refused to confirm Rich was the source, stating, “we don’t comment on who our sources are.”