Update: Fox News retracted it’s May 16, 2017, article, which is cited below, on May 23, 2017.
The source of leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential election may have come from within the Democratic Party, and investigators believe the key to his subsequent murder may be on the laptop he used to send those emails.
According to an article published by Fox News on May 16, former DNC staffer Seth Rich shared Democrat emails with information leaking website WikiLeaks shortly before he was found murdered.
Fox News spoke with an unnamed federal investigator who had reviewed a FBI forensic report on the content of Rich’s computer 96 hours after Rich was murdered on July 10. The investigator said Rich contacted WikiLeaks through now-deceased investigative reporter Gavin MacFadyen.
The investigator told Fox News, “I have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and Wikileaks” and that Rich had transferred 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments from DNC leaders to WikiLeaks through MacFadyen, between January 2015 and May 2016.
A second source interviewed by Fox News had similar findings. Rod Wheeler, a former Washington homicide detective, whose firm was hired by Rich’s family to investigate the case, told Fox News that his investigation “up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wikileaks.”
Wheeler added, “I do believe that the answers to who murdered Seth Rich sit on his computer on a shelf at the DC police or FBI headquarters.”
A spokesman for Rich’s family told Fox News that Wheeler was not authorized to speak for the family on his findings, and said his claim that Rich was the source for WikiLeaks was “unsubstantiated.”
If the claims of either Wheeler or the federal investigator are true, however, it could mean that crucial evidence is being held by the FBI or Washington police.
It would likewise put a lid on the rumors that Russia leaked the emails to WikiLeaks, and it would also suggest that FBI officials and possibly leaders at the DNC were aware that the Russia narrative was false.
The cyberattack that the DNC alleged was launched from Russia to steal the leaked emails actually originated in Europe and was bounced off networks of Russian hosting service King Servers to spoof the origin, according to research by Gary Miliefsky, CEO of cybersecurity company SnoopWall.
“That means someone was logging into rented Russian-geolocated-servers to launch some older Russian malware remotely from Europe,” said Miliefsky in a statement.
Separate from the leaked DNC emails are the emails hacked from the computer of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager. Podesta fell victim to a phishing attack of unknown origin.
WikiLeaks did not issue any statements to confirm or deny the claim that Rich had provided Democrat emails, but it did retweet the Fox News article on its official Twitter account, re-stating its headline, “Slain DNC staffer had contact with WikiLeaks, investigator says.”
WikiLeaks has a track record of only retweeting statements it agrees with, and it will typically post a rebuttal if it disagrees with a statement.
Rich was murdered on July 10, 2016, in Washington. He was allegedly shot twice at 4:17 a.m. about a block from his home. His death was written off by police as a botched robbery, but they did not take his keys, phone, wallet, or other valuables.
Soon after Rich was killed, on July 22 WikiLeaks published leaked DNC emails showing that top-level party officials conspired to rig the primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was running to become the Democratic presidential nominee.
Shortly after he was killed, WikiLeaks issued a $20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of his murderer.
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, added more fuel to speculation that Rich was the source of the leaks during an apparent slip-up during an interview on Dutch television program Nieuwsuur in August 2016.
“Whistleblowers go through significant efforts to get us material, and often very significant risks,” Assange stated in the interview. “There is a 27-year-old who works with the DNC who was shot in the back, murdered, just a few weeks ago, for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington.”
The host stopped Assange, stating, “That was just a robbery, I believe, wasn’t it?”
Assange replied, “No, there was no finding.”
After more pressing questions on whether Rich had been the source of the leaks, and why Assange would mention his name otherwise, Assange stated, “We don’t comment on who our sources are.” He added that WikiLeaks is investigating the murder and that “a variety of WikiLeaks sources are concerned when that kind of thing happens.”