WikiLeaks announced Tuesday it will provide a $20,000 reward for information that helps police solve the fatal shooting of a 27-year-old D.C. man who worked for the Democratic National Committee.
In an announcement made on Twitter, the organization known for publishing secret information offered the reward in exchange for information leading to the conviction of the person who killed Seth Conrad Rich.
Rich was fatally shot in the early morning hours of July 10 while walking to his Bloomingdale apartment in Northwest D.C.
Metropolitan Police Department 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.
“We are looking into some robberies that have occurred in that area and we will match the lookouts to see if that has anything to do with this murder,” acting Capt. Anthony Haythe said at a press conference the day after Rich’s death.
Rich worked as a voter expansion data director for the DNC.
It was not immediately clear what motivated WikiLeaks to offer the reward money, though conspiracy theories about Rich’s death have swirled online with some questioning whether he may have played a role in the recent embarrassing leak of internal DNC emails to WikiLeaks. The publication last month of thousands of internal emails embarrassed committee officials and forced Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz out of her post.
In a statement sent to The Washington 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.
Seeking to put a kibosh on the rumors, the D.C. police department 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 MPD 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.”
But the rumors have been upsetting to Rich’s family, who believes the speculation is doing more harm than good.
Brad Bauman, a consultant who reached out to The Washington Times on Wednesday as a spokesman for the Rich family, said they hoped 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.”
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 continued.
D.C. police are also offering up to $25,000 in reward money for information that leads to a conviction in the homicide investigation.