UPDATE 9:26 a.m. EST:A spokesperson for Seth Rich's family rejected private investigator Rod Wheeler's claims of evidence linking the slain DNC staffer to WikiLeaks, according to a statement tweeted by BuzzFeed's Alex Campbell.
"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 statement read. An article on the BuzzFeed News website attributed the statement to Brad Bauman.
"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," it continued. "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 statement said Wheeler's services were offered to the Rich family and paid for by a third party, and that he "contractually was barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family."
ORIGINAL STORY: Former DNC staffer Seth Rich was killed last year in what authorities dubbed a robbery gone wrong. However, a private investigator said there's now evidence that the former DNC staffer had been in contact with WikiLeaks before he was gunned down, Fox News reported.
Rod Wheeler, a private investigator hired by Rich's family, claims there is evidence on a laptop computer that was in Rich's possession. Wheeler is a former D.C. police homicide detective and has been running his own investigation parallel to that of the police.
"The police department nor the FBI have been forthcoming,” Wheeler told WTTG. “They haven't been cooperating at all. I believe that the answer to solving his death lies on that computer, which I believe is either at the police department or either at the FBI. I have been told both.”
Rich began to be linked with WikiLeaks when founder Julian Assange offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the killers' arrest.
Rich would have had access to sensitive DNC information before his death.
Some have speculated that Assange paying attention to this story signaled that Rich was the source of the leaked DNC emails that WikiLeaks released in 2016.
Assange even hinted as much during an interview on a Dutch television show.
“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,” said Assange.
“That was just a robbery, I believe. Wasn’t it?” asked the Dutch reporter.
“No. There’s no finding. So I’m suggesting that our sources take risks, responded Assange.”