WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The website WikiLeaks is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for the murder of 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.
Rich is a native of Omaha, Nebraska.
He was shot in the back multiple times while walking home at 4:19am on July 10th in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, DC.
Police believe it was an attempted robbery, but the founder of the WikiLeaks website is linking Rich’s death to the recent Democratic National Committee email leak.
“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks. There is a 27-year-old, works for the DNC, who was shot in the back. Murdered just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington,” said Julian Assange appearing on a Dutch television program called Nieuwsuur.
Assange added, “We have to understand how high the stakes are in the United States and that our sources are, you know, our sources face serious risks that is why they come to us so we can protect their anonymity.”
Rich was killed two weeks before WikiLeaks released emails that prompted the Chairwoman of the DNC to step down.
The emails showed Debbie Wasserman-Schultz helped look for ways to damage Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and secure Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee.
In response to the WikiLeaks reward offering, Rich’s father told the Washington Post, “I hope the additional money helps find out who did this.” But, Joel Rich said, “I don’t want to play WikiLeaks’ game.”
Rich’s friends say he planned to leave his job at the DNC, at least temporarily, to work for the Clinton campaign. They say he wanted to move to Brooklyn at the end of the summer.
“It makes me kind of suspicious -- not only potentially of WikiLeaks’ motive, but of the entire situation,” said Rob Placek.
Placek met Rich at Creighton University where they were both political science majors and Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers. He says the WikiLeaks reward offering is making him feel uneasy.
“WikiLeaks knows something we don’t know. It’s obviously hard to make sure it was a botched robbery when nothing was taken. Not even his wallet with credit cards,” added Placek.
Placek said Rich’s job at the DNC gave him access to internal voter data and information.
“He wrote code and worked in data science and statistics,” said Placek.
Those are the areas the Clinton campaign says were targeted, “An analytics data program maintained by the DNC, and used by our campaign and a number of other entities, was accessed as part of the DNC hack," the campaign said in a statement.
WikiLeaks has not responded to the Gray DC Bureau’s request for comment on why the website is offering the reward.
In a statement, the DC Metropolitan Police Department told the Gray DC Bureau, “At this time, there is no indication that Seth Rich’s death is connected to his employment at the DNC.”
The DC Metropolitan Police Department is also offering a reward up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Rich’s killer.