Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory Was Planted By Russians, Podcast Claims

'Conspiracyland,' a Yahoo podcast hosted by Michael Isikoff, looks at how the Rich theory began.

Michael Isikoff, host of the Conspiracyland podcast
Monica Schipper / Getty Images

'Conspiracyland,' a Yahoo podcast hosted by Michael Isikoff, looks at how the Rich theory began.

The murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich in July 2016 has been a staple of conspiracy theories since the day it happened. Now, a new podcast is making shocking claims about how the conspiracy theory originated.

Rich, a 27-year-old employee of the DNC, was shot and killed in Washington, D.C. early on the morning of July 10, 2016, and while the murder has never been solved, police believe it was probably a robbery-gone-wrong.

However, days after Rich’s death, conspiracy theorists connected the dots and concluded that Rich had been responsible for the leak, weeks earlier, of embarrassing DNC emails to Wikileaks, with the implication that he had been murdered in retaliation.

Per The Inquisitr, Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, did his part to push this theory, even offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the solving of Rich’s murder. Then, in May of 2017, both Fox News and the Fox TV station in Washington ran stories alleging that law enforcement sources believed Rich had been the Wikileaks leaker. Fox retracted the story later that spring, per The Daily Beast.

Now, Yahoo News has published the findings of its investigation into the Rich theory, in the form of a new podcast called Conspiracyland. The release is timed for the third anniversary of Rich’s death, which is Wednesday.

In the podcast, reporter Michael Isikoff concludes that “Russian intelligence agents secretly planted a fake report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton.” Isikoff is an experienced reporter on politics and national security, and co-wrote a 2018 book, Russian Roulette, about Russian interference in 2016.

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The Russian foreign intelligence service, SVR, allegedly planted the story just three days after Rich’s death, and soon found its way into fever swamps of the internet, and eventually to Fox News. Isikoff claims this was done with an assist from the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the notorious Russian “troll farm” that was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for its role in the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

It was also Russian entities, including the hacker personas DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, per the Mueller Report, that had actually leaked the DNC information to Wikileaks.

Seth Rich’s family has been adamant ever since his death that he did not leak to Wikileaks, and has strongly opposed the spreading of any conspiracy theories that imply Rich’s death was in retaliation for any such leak. The family, per The Huffington Post, even sued Fox News, although the suit was thrown out last August.