The story of Seth Rich’s untimely death has become a cause celebre for a number of the Internet’s notorious underworld denizens looking to inject themselves into a relevant conversation. Conspiracy theories have proliferated.
Kim Dotcom, a self-described digital crusader and mega-hacker, has been front and center recently with claims that he has evidence that Seth Rich communicated with Wikileaks and was instrumental in revealing the DNC’s deep dark secrets. The suggestion is that Rich was killed by someone sympathetic to the Democrats because he knew too much.
But Rich’s family tells the Washington Post that they believe Kim’s story may have hinged on a hacking attempt gone awry.
On Tuesday, Kim Dotcom promised a blockbuster announcement that would have major ramifications for the investigation into Rich’s death, which remains unsolved. But Kim Dotcom’s major statement turned out to be a lukewarm proclamation that revealed only tenuous links between Rich and Wikileaks—and no concrete evidence to support Kim’s claims.
Speaking to the WaPo on Wednesday, Rich’s family says Seth’s Gmail account, which his father now operates, received a suspicious email from Mega.nz, a website associated with Kim Dotcom’s digital security agency. Seth’s father didn’t click on the email, and, it seems, narrowly avoided allowing access to Seth’s Gmail archives.
Cyber-security experts seemed to confirm the email was an attempt to hack Seth’s records and, perhaps, fabricate evidence that Seth had been communicating with Wikileaks. The hack, they believe, originated in New Zealand, where Kim Dotcom lives.
Investigators associated with the case have told Heat Street and other outlets that Rich’s computers and email accounts were thoroughly examined and no evidence was found connecting Rich to the DNC hack, which federal authorities believe to be the work of Russians.
A Rich family spokesperson told Heat Street that the entire situation—from Kim Dotcom’s claims to the hacking attempts—is “bizarre.” The spokesperson also said that Kim Dotcom’s claim that the family requested the hacker be “sensitive” in his public commentary is false. Kim Dotcom was set to appear on Sean Hannity’s Fox TV show on Tuesday night, but in the end, that didn’t happen.
Rich was killed last summer in what authorities believe was a botched robbery attempt. He was shot several times outside of his DC apartment, but his wallet, watch and other valuables were left scattered near his body.
The case remains unsolved, and has spun off a number of Internet conspiracy theories that had died down following the presidential election. But they seem to have peaked again in recent weeks, sparked in part by a mention from Newt Gingrich, among others.
Whatever the reason, the Rich family is asking for conspiracy theorists to let it go.
“We are outraged that certain individuals continue to try to use Seth’s name and memory to advance their political and ideological agendas,” the family said in an editorial published at The Washington Post. “We hope people will think twice the next time someone makes an outlandish claim to have discovered new evidence in this case.”