The Russian embassy in London has claimed that murdered Democratic staffer Seth Rich is the “informer” who leaked Democratic National Committee emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election.
The tweet, published Friday, also criticized the mainstream media for continuing to blame Russian hackers for interfering in the election, the official line forwarded by the U.S. intelligence community assessing how WikiLeaks got the emails.
Rich was gunned down as he walked home from a bar in Washington, D.C., on July 10 last year, just two weeks before WikiLeaks began to publish the DNC leaks—44,000 internal emails that caused havoc for the party, exposing several controversies.
Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department claims that Rich was killed in a botched robbery, although no valuable possessions were stolen from him. However, with no witnesses or information, the case remains unsolved.
The timing of the killing puts the data analyst at the center of a conspiracy, with many believing that he had been targeted for leaking the party establishment’s emails. As if to prove the notion that Rich was the source, WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward two months after his death for any information that would lead to a conviction.
WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, would later repeat that Russia was not the source of the email dumps while continuing to mention Rich during his news interviews. Assange has refused to confirm nor deny outright that Rich was a source.
The debate over whether Rich was a Wikileaks source saw a resurgence this week when the family’s private investigator, Rod Wheeler, claimed that information on Rich’s laptop confirmed that he had been communicating with WikiLeaks before his death.
The news upset of Rich’s family, who refuted the “unsubstantiated” claims in a statement.
Wheeler eventually backtracked, but pro-Trump online communities were already setting out to prove the theory to be true, convinced that the mainstream media were intentionally neglecting the full story.
The Russian embassy’s tweet, therefore, throws wood on an already raging fire. If Rich can be proven to be the leaker, or if enough people believe he is, then the Trump-Russia collusion narrative may fall apart.