“… damaging the legacy of their son.”
The family of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich is demanding a retraction and an apology from Fox News for its report alleging their son contacted WikiLeaks prior to his murder.
Rich, 27, was shot and killed on a Washington D.C. street July 10 in what’s been described by police as a botched robbery. Two assailants were caught on tape shooting the DNC staffer twice in his back but did not take his wallet, cell phone, keys, watch, or a necklace worth about $2,000.
“The family is officially asking for a retraction and an apology from Fox News and from the Fox 5 DC affiliate for inaccurate reporting and damaging the legacy of their son,” Rich family spokesman Brad Bauman said.
Bauman said the family is considering “other options, including legal, to clear their son’s name.”
Earlier this week, Fox News and WTTG-TV cited a federal investigator who claimed to have reviewed a report detailing contents of Rich’s computer generated within a week of his murder said Rich made repeated contact with WikiLeaks.
“I have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks,” the federal investigator, who requested anonymity, told Fox News. He said Rich had transferred 44,053 emails to former WikiLeaks director Gavin MacFayden prior to May 21.
Rod Wheeler, a private investigator looking into the DNC staffer’s murder on behalf of the Rich family, made statements to Fox News that appeared to corroborate the anonymous federal investigator’s findings.
Wheeler told Fox News host Sean Hannity Tuesday night the investigator “came across [as] very credible. When you look at that, with the totality of everything else that I found in this case, it’s very consistent for a person with my experience to begin to think, ‘Well, perhaps there were some email communication between Seth and Wikileaks.’”
However, an unnamed law enforcement official told CNN the FBI never conducted a forensic analysis of Rich’s laptop, adding that the federal investigator cited by Fox News could not have reviewed a report detailing the contents of Rich’s computer.
“They need to retract the story or issue an apology or the family will consider other options, including legal, to clear their son’s name and get Fox to do what’s right,” Bauman, the Rich family’s spokesman, told CNN.
Wheeler, the Rich family’s private investigator, also appears to be backing away from his previous statements. He said the comments he made to Fox News this week were based on what had already been reported in the media.
Wheeler said his statement that the Rich “investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wikileaks” was based on information provided by a reporter at Fox News.
Bauman said Wheeler’s public comments on the investigation could be a breach of contract.
“It is possible that this private investigator is in breach of a non-disclosure contract,” Bauman told CNN, adding that Wheeler’s statements “seriously impeded the ability of the Metropolitan Police Department to investigate.”
Wheeler said he wasn’t sure if he was in breach of contract for speaking about his investigation to Fox News. “I think that’s something I will have to work out with [the family],” he told CNN.
The Rich family was put in contact with Wheeler through Dallas businessman Ed Butowsky, who offered to cover the cost of any bills associated with the investigation.
“You have a family who can’t afford a PI. Their son was killed. So I offered to help,” Butowsky told CNN.
Butowsky said he has not “paid any money to anyone” thus far in relation to the Rich investigation, adding that Wheeler has been conducting his investigation into the matter pro bono.
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