News & Politics

Kim Dotcom: Seth Rich Contacted Me in 2014 About Starting 'Internet Party' in the U.S.

Kim Dotcom speaks at the Mana Internet Party Election Campaign Launch (Rex Features via AP Images)

Notorious Internet entrepreneur/hacker Kim Dotcom last week claimed on Twitter that he knew Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer who was gunned down in Northwest D.C. last July. Fox News’ Sean Hannity invited Dotcom to be on his show Tuesday night to discuss what he knows about the case.

The Rich family has taken great offense at reports alleging that Seth Rich was the leaker and has reached out to Fox News to cancel the interview.

Fox News has since pulled and retracted its report alleging that multiple investigative sources had confirmed that Rich had leaked thousands of internal emails to Wikileaks.

Dotcom, who is facing charges in the United States of copyright infringement, said he knew that Rich was Wikileaks’ source for the DNC emails because he himself was involved. He offered to give the United States Congress written testimony with evidence that Seth Rich was the source if Congress would agree to include the Seth Rich case in their Russia probe. He said that he would be meeting with his lawyers on Monday and issuing a statement on Tuesday.

In his statement, now up at kim.com, Dotcom writes in all caps “#SETHRICH WAS A HERO” and “I KNOW THAT SETH RICH WAS INVOLVED IN THE DNC LEAK.” He refers to Rich by what he believes was Rich’s online nickname,”Panda,” saying: “I now know that Panda was Seth Rich.”

Internet sleuths on reddit recently uncovered what they claim to be several of Rich’s old social media accounts featuring his nickname “Panda.”

Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload.com and Mega.co.nz, said that Rich contacted him in late 2014 about helping to start a branch of the Internet Party in the United States. The Internet Party is a political party promoting Internet freedom and privacy that was founded in January 2014 in New Zealand with the support of Dotcom.

Dotcom has offered to make a statement to U.S. authorities on the case if Special Counsel Mueller can provide safe passage from New Zealand to the United States and back.

Here is his statement in full:

#SETHRICH WAS A HERO”

“I KNOW THAT SETH RICH WAS INVOLVED IN THE DNC LEAK

I know this because in late 2014 a person contacted me about helping me to start a branch of the Internet Party in the United States. He called himself Panda. I now know that Panda was Seth Rich.

Panda advised me that he was working on voter analytics tools and other technologies that the Internet Party may find helpful.

I communicated with Panda on a number of topics including corruption and the influence of corporate money in politics.

I was referring to what I knew when I did an interview with Bloomberg in New Zealand in May 2015. In that interview I hinted that Julian Assange and Wikileaks [sic] would release information about Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election.

The Rich family has reached out to me to ask that I be sensitive to their loss in my public comments. That request is entirely reasonable.

I have consulted with my lawyers. I accept that my full statement should be provided to the authorities and I am prepared to do that so that there can be a full investigation. My lawyers will speak with the authorities regarding the proper process.

If my evidence is required to be given in the United States I would be prepared to do so if appropriate arrangements are made. I would need a guarantee from Special Counsel Mueller, on behalf of the United States, of safe passage from New Zealand to the United States and back. In the coming days we will be communicating with the appropriate authorities to make the necessary arrangements. In the meantime, I will make no further comment.

STATEMENT FROM
KIM DOTCOM

In December of 2014, Dotcom announced on Twitter that he would be “Hillary’s worst nightmare in 2016!”

When asked about the tweet in his interview with Bloomberg.com, he strongly suggested that he had insider information about leaks.

“I have to say it’s probably more Julian,” who threatens Hillary, Dotcom said. “But I’m aware of some of the things that are going to be roadblocks for her.”

Assange has access to information, Dotcom said, though he added that he didn’t know anything more specific.

The intelligence community continues to maintain that the Russians hacked into the DNC computers based on the analysis of a private cybersecurity firm.

The FBI notified the DNC of a hacking intrusion sometime around August of 2015, but the DNC refused to give the FBI access to its computer network to investigate the intrusions.

Over the next several months, the FBI says it made repeated requests to inspect the DNC network. The DNC later denied receiving these requests; however, the fact remains that an FBI inspection of the DNC computer network never took place.

The DNC relied instead on private cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike.

From March to late April 2016, over a period of five weeks, private cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike spent 128 hours performing an investigation for the DNC into unauthorized access by members of then-primary candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign staff into Hillary Clinton’s section of the DNC’s voter file system. The breach lasted a total of one hour on December 15, 2015, after an internal firewall failed and provided the Sanders employees with unexpected access to the files. The DNC issued a press release about CrowdStrike’s findings on April 29, 2016, which confirmed–five weeks and 128 hours later–that a few Sanders staffers accessed Hillary Clinton’s voter data for an hour. For unknown reasons, no Russian hacking was detected at that time, suggesting CrowdStrike missed one or both of the Russian hacking groups that were allegedly present in the DNC network at the time.

Just days later, in late April 2016–nearly 10 months after the FBI informed the DNC it was exposed to hackers–the DNC re-hired CrowdStrike to evaluate its computer network. The company quickly assessed, using its own software, that two hacker networks affiliated with Russian intelligence likely carried out the attacks, one entering in 2015 and remaining (obtaining emails and messages) and the other entering at the end of April 2016 (taking opposition research files). CrowdStrike speculated that spear-phishing emails, which when opened install malicious software, were the method used; however, the firm denied having “hard evidence” in that regard. Notably, CrowdStrike was “not sure how the hackers got in,” per a Washington Post article covering the story two months lateron June 14, 2016, which began the “Russian hackers” media narrative

While police have called the Seth Rich murder a “botched robbery,” nothing was stolen from him, including “his wallet, cell phone, keys, watch or necklace worth about $2,000.” It’s possible, however, that Rich just ran into some bad hombres who didn’t need an excuse to shoot someone in a sketchy part of D.C. in the wee hours of the morning.

WikiLeaks published the DNC emails on July 22, twelve days after Rich was murdered. Those emails prompted the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz from her role as DNC chairperson on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has insisted all along that the DNC emails were not hacked by the Russians, and he has strongly implied that Rich was the source of the emails. On August 9, WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information on the murdered DNC staffer.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning said in response to Dotcom’s statement: “If, as Kim Dotcom claims, murdered DNC employee Seth Rich was the source of the DNC leaks, then it is incumbent upon Special Counsel Mueller to shift the focus of his investigation away from Russia and all of the false innuendo about that country’s influence over our national elections.”

The Rich family strongly refutes all reports that allege Seth Rich leaked the emails.

“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,” the family said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “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.”

A former law enforcement officer with knowledge of the investigation into the mysterious death said Rich’s laptop had yielded no emails related to WikiLeaks.

“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 family’s statement continued. “The services of the private investigator who spoke to the 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.”

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton has filed an FOIA request with the Metropolitan Washington Police Department, FBI and the mayor’s office in an effort to get to the bottom of the “curious case.”