- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2017

The father of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich denied lingering allegations this week about his late son’s supposed ties to WikiLeaks, nearly six months after he was posthumously accused of supplying the website with internal DNC emails.

Rich, a data analyst for the DNC, was murdered near his D.C. home in July about two weeks before WikiLeaks began publishing a trove of privileged Democratic correspondence.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange later offered a $20,000 reward leading to the arrest of Rich’s killer, spurring speculation that the slain staffer was the source of the leak.

Six months later, Rich’s father told Fox News this week that suspicions about their son’s alleged role in the leak persist despite having been refuted by both law enforcement and loved ones.

“Anyone who knew Seth knew that wasn’t the way he would have handled the problem,” his dad, Joel Rich, told Fox News in an interview published online Tuesday. “He would not go outside the system.”

In August, Mr. Assange said on Dutch television that WikiLeaks was “investigating” Rich’s murder, but stopped short of calling him a source.

“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks,” Mr. Assange said at the time. “There’s a 27-year-old who works for the DNC who was shot in the back, murdered, just a few weeks ago, for unknown reasons as he was walking down the streets in Washington.

“There’s not a conclusion yet, we wouldn’t be willing to state a conclusion, but we are concerned about it and more importantly a variety of Wikileaks sources are concerned when that kind of thing happens,” Mr. Assange said.

Speaking to Fox, Rich’s father said the WikiLeaks chief’s comments about his son were “bizarre.”

Police have stated for months that Rich was likely killed during a robbery gone awry, and that no evidence exists to indicate his death and job were connected.

“The reason Seth was killed is probably because he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” his father told Fox News. “There are all kinds of scenarios, but until something else is proven, these are just scenarios.”

Interest in Rich’s murder, and more broadly the DNC breach, has rekindled in recent days upon the release of a U.S. government report last week that accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing that hack and others in a bid to influence the outcome of last year’s White House race.

Russian hackers penetrated the DNC and other Democratic targets, then obtained sensitive emails that were passed along to WikiLeaks for publication, the report said.

Mr. Assange has repeatedly stated Russia wasn’t the source of emails shared by WikiLeaks, and has challenged the U.S. government for indicating otherwise.

“There is one person in the world — and I think it’s actually only one — who knows exactly what is going on with our publications. … And that’s me,” Mr. Assange told Fox News host Sean Hannity in a separate interview this month.

Tuesday marked six months to the day since Rich’s death. D.C. Police urges anyone with information on his murder to “come forward and help bring his family the answers they deserve,” Fox reported.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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