The family of a slain Democratic National Committee staffer is asking the public to stop politicizing the 27-year-old’s death, saying the conspiracy theories and speculation spread online are “causing more harm than good.”
Both the family of Seth Rich and D.C. police, who are investigating his fatal shooting, were compelled to address rumors that he may have played a role in the recent embarrassing leak of internal DNC emails to WikiLeaks after the organization announced Tuesday it would offer a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction of his killer.
Brad Bauman, a consultant who reached out Wednesday to The Washington Times on as a spokesman for the Rich family, said they hope the additional attention could help investigators.
“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,” Mr. Bauman said. “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.”
Seeking to put a kibosh on the rumors, the Metropolitan Police Department also issued a statement Wednesday refuting any link.
“At this time, there is no indication that Seth Rich’s death is connected to his employment at the DNC,” read the statement. “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.”
Rich was fatally shot in the early morning of July 10 while walking to his Bloomingdale apartment in Northwest.
Metropolitan Police officials said Rich was shot multiple times and while investigators have not established a motive in the case, they were looking into the possibility that his death could have been related to several recent robberies in the area.
It was not entirely clear what motivated WikiLeaks to offer the reward money.
Last month the organization published thousands of internal DNC emails that embarrassed committee officials and forced Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz out of her post.
In a statement sent to The Times through WikiLeaks’ Twitter account, the organization said it would not confirm or deny whether Rich had ever been a source for WikiLeaks.
“We treat threats toward any suspected source of WikiLeaks with extreme gravity. This should not be taken to imply that Seth Rich was a source to WikiLeaks or to imply that his murder is connected to our publications,” the statement said.
The WikiLeaks statement said the organization hopes the reward offer “will contribute to the family’s calls for information and to the separate reward issued by police.”
“We have a history of obtaining information that has significantly contributed to many legal proceedings, including successful prosecutions,” the statement said.
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