The family of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich is calling on conspiracy theorists to stop speculating about factually baseless connections between his death and a WikiLeaks hack.
In the weeks since Rich’s death in Washington, DC, online conspiracy theorists have speculated that it may have been connected to the hack and subsequent leak of internal DNC emails.
The group WikiLeaks offered $20,000 on Tuesday for information leading to a conviction in Rich’s case. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took the offer a step further in an interview, suggesting that Rich was potentially a WikiLeaks source.
In a statement to Business Insider on Wednesday, Rich family spokesperson Brad Bauman thanked investigators and implored high-profile figures to stop attempting to “politicize” Rich’s death by perpetuating unfounded theories about the shooting.
“The family welcomes any and all information that could lead to the identification of the individuals responsible, and certainly welcomes contributions that could lead to new avenues of investigation,” Bauman said in the statement.
“That said, some are attempting to politicize this horrible tragedy, and in their attempts to do so, are actually causing more harm that good and impeding on the ability for law enforcement to properly do their job. For the sake of finding Seth’s killer, and for the sake of giving the family the space they need at this terrible time, they are asking for the public to refrain from pushing unproven and harmful theories about Seth’s murder.”
DC police have also attempted to carefully tamp down unproven online speculation about Rich’s DNC connection, while still seeking information from the public.
Following Rich’s death last month, Metropolitan Police Department police officials suggested that the shooting was likely the result of an attempted robbery.
MPD spokesperson Alice Kim told Business Insider on Tuesday that there was no evidence connecting Rich’s death to his work at the DNC, but welcomed information.
“At this time, there is no indication that Seth Rich’s death is connected to his employment at the DNC. However, we welcome information that could potentially lead to the identification of the individual(s) responsible for his death and are pleased when any outside contributors help us generate new leads,” Kim said.
Rich’s death has garnered significant attention from some online forums and right-leaning outlets, as the death came just weeks before WikiLeaks’ release of hacked internal emails in which top DNC staffers criticised and considered taking political action against Sen. Bernie Sanders. The FBI launched an official investigation into the intrusion, which experts linked to hackers with Russian ties.
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