Slain DNC staffer's family quashes report he had contact with WikiLeaks

Slain DNC staffer's family quashes report he had contact with WikiLeaks
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The family of slain Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich is refuting a report that Rich was in contact with WikiLeaks. 

"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," a spokesperson for the family said in a statement, according to BuzzFeed News.

"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."

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Fox 5 on Monday reported that a private investigator had suggested there was evidence on Rich's laptop that he had been in communication with WikiLeaks before his death last year in Washington, D.C.

"The police department nor the FBI have been forthcoming,” Rod Wheeler, the private investigator, said, according to Fox 5.

“They haven't been cooperating 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.” 

Wheeler said sources have told him there is information linking Rich to WikiLeaks. 

"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,’" he told Fox 5. 

"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."

Rich's family in the statement also said the services of the private investigator were offered to them and "paid for by a third party." The private investigator also "contractually was barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family." 

Washington's Metropolitan Police Department on Tuesday also denied Wheeler's claim that a source in the department said detectives were told to stand down in the case.

Police say Rich was shot multiple times last year while walking to his apartment in Washington's Northwest quadrant. At the time, police said they believed Rich's death may have been part of an attempted robbery.  

Last year, after Rich's death, WikiLeaks announced on Twitter it was offering $20,000 for information leading to a conviction. 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange seemed to suggest during a Dutch TV interview last year that Rich was the source of the leak of DNC officials' emails.

“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,” he told Nieuwsuur.

“I’m suggesting that our sources take risks."

During last year's presidential race, WikiLeaks released a trove of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta, Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonHouse Judiciary Committee votes to request documents on Comey, Clinton GOP senator warns Trump: Panel won't take up attorney general nominee this year Overnight Cybersecurity: Facebook invests in group fighting election hacking | House panel advances DHS cyber revamp bill | Lawmakers mull cyber insurance for small businesses MORE's campaign chairman. WikiLeaks' source for the emails has never been publicly identified, though many have alleged the hack was part of Russia's attempts to influence the election against Clinton.

This story was updated at 10:12 a.m. with the statement from Seth Rich's family.