by WorldTribune Staff, May 16, 2017
A private investigator hired by the family of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered in July 2016, said there is direct evidence that Rich was communicating with WikiLeaks prior to his death, a report said.
Investigator Rod Wheeler, a former D.C. police homicide detective, told Fox 5 news that a source inside the Washington, D.C. police department told him the D.C. cops were ordered to “stand down” in the case. A D.C. police official denied the report.
Rich, 27, was shot and killed on July 8. D.C. police have suggested the murder was a botched robbery. Seth Rich’s father told reporters: “If it was a robbery — it failed because he still has his watch, he still has his money — he still has his credit cards, still had his phone so it was a wasted effort except we lost a life.”
Wheeler said evidence on Rich’s laptop confirms he was communicating with WikiLeaks prior to his death.
“The police department nor the FBI have been forthcoming,” said Wheeler. “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.”
When asked if his sources have told him there is information that links Rich to WikiLeaks, Wheeler told Fox 5, “Absolutely. Yeah. That’s confirmed.”
“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.”
FOX 5’s Melanie Alnwick spoke with D.C. Police on May 16 and was told that Wheeler’s assertion that a source inside the department told him that detectives were instructed to stand down regarding the Rich case was false
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has suggested that Rich was the source for the leaked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails during the 2016 election campaign.
Related: Assange points to murdered DNC staffer as WikiLeaks source, Aug. 10, 2016
“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks,” Assange told the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur.
“A 27-year-old, works for the DNC, was shot in the back, murdered … for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington.”
The Nieuwsuur interviewer than asked: “That was just a robbery, I believe. Wasn’t it?”
Assange responded: “No. There’s no finding. So… I’m suggesting that our sources take risks.”
Several posters to social media said they were pursuing a “lead” saying that Rich was en route to the FBI the morning of his murder, apparently intending to speak to special agents about an “ongoing court case” possibly involving the Clinton family.
The Rich family sent Fox 5 the following statement on May 16:
“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. 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. We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth’s murderers. The services of the private investigator who spoke to press was offered to the Rich family and paid for by a third party, and contractually was barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family.”