Here’s a fascinating and potentially explosive twist in the DNC email scandal. The group that leaked the emails, WikiLeaks, is offering a $20,000 reward for information on the murder of a DNC staffer, Seth Rich. And WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hinted during an interview on Dutch TV that Rich may have been the source for the hacked emails.
Julian Assange: Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks. As a 27 year-old, works for the DNC, was shot in the back, murdered just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington.
Reporter: That was just a robbery, I believe. Wasn’t it?
Julian Assange: No. There’s no finding. So… I’m suggesting that our sources take risks.
Rich was murdered while walking down a street in a high-crime area of Washington in July. If robbery was the motive, the thief failed to take his wallet, watch, cell phone, or credit cards.
Assange’s cryptic reference to Rich being a source for WikiLeaks suggests at least the possibility that the motive for the murder was more than simple thievery.
WikiLeaks is offering the reward more than two weeks after the group published thousands of internal DNC emails on the eve of the party’s national convention, which caused an uproar among supporters of Bernie Sanders and forced Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down.
The anti-secrecy organization has been accused of having an agenda against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who has long been a target of conspiracy theories related to the death of onetime White House aide Vince Foster.
Police in Washington have been tight-lipped about the Rich investigation but have suggested they believed the crime was a robbery.
Just last week, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said it was possible that Rich was killed in an attempted robbery. She spoke at an event with Rich’s mother, and both made a plea for tips that might help solve the case.
There have been 77 homicides in Washington in 2016, though Rich’s death is the only one recorded in the last year within 1,500 feet of where he was killed.
Fifty-one violent crimes have been recorded by D.C. police in that area in the last year, however, including 19 robberies with guns and 10 assaults with a dangerous weapon, according to the police crime map.
After Rich’s killing, neighbors told Fox 5 that violence in the area had recently spiked, especially in a nearby construction zone.
It should be noted that even if Rich were, indeed, the source for DNC emails, his murder may still have been simply a robbery gone bad. Perhaps the young man tried to fight back and the gun went off, frightening the attacker who then fled the scene without taking anything. There are many possibilities that don’t include some sinister motive for the killing, and speculating that Rich was killed to shut him up is useless without any hard evidence.
But the WikiLeaks reward offer is real. Then why wouldn’t Assange come right out and say Rich was the source? Assange is a publicity whore who recently boasted that WikiLeaks was going to hack Donald Trump’s tax returns. We’ll believe it when we see it. He may simply be baiting the media by tossing out non-sequiturs hoping people will try to connect the dots.
At the intersection of conspiracy and coincidence is a fuzzy gray area where possibilities present themselves, but facts are few. Until we know more — if we ever know more — there isn’t much point going off half cocked on some wild conspiracy bender.