A judge has ordered the FBI to turn over the laptop of murdered Democrat staffer Seth Rich.
Texas Judge Amos L. Mazzant ordered “a timeline for the disclosure of information on Seth Rich’s personal laptop, Seth Rich’s work laptop, the DVD and tape drive within 14 days following issuance of this Memorandum of Opinion and Order” on Wednesday morning.
Rich, who worked for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), was killed on July 10, 2016, while making his way home from a night out in Washington, D.C. The 27-year-old was speaking to his girlfriend on the phone when shots were heard.
His death has, in the years since, been used by right-wing activists to fuel far-reaching theories about Democrats. While a killer has not been found, police have said evidence indicates he was the victim of a botched robbery.
The ruling is the latest in a long-running freedom of information battle between the FBI and Ty Clevenger, an attorney representing the plaintiff, Texas-based Brian Huddleston.
Huddleston first submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FBI on September 1, 2017, requesting information relating to his investigation into Rich’s potential involvement in DNC email leaks in June 2016,RadarOnline reported last year.
Although the FBI responded to Huddleston’s request two weeks later saying they were “unable to locate any responsive main files,” it was later unveiled that the FBI had over 20,000 pages of potentially relevant material, according to RadarOnline.
Take a look:
Of these, 1,596 pages were directly related to Rich. Another 1,496 of the pages were withheld due to a series of FOIA exemptions.
In September 2022, the court entered a Prior Order requiring the FBI and the Department of Justice to produce the information it possessed related to Seth Rich’s laptop and responsive to the plaintiff’s FOIA requests.
The FBI filed a Motion for Clarification in September 2022, which has now been denied. The bureau is also required to “produce a Vaughn index addressing the
information it possesses on the compact disk containing images of Seth Rich’s personal laptop that is responsive to plaintiff’s FOIA requests.”
Newsweek reached out to the FBI via email for comment.
Rich’s death sparked a wave of now-debunked conspiracy theories claiming he was responsible for publicly leaking thousands of DNC emails relating to the involvement of Russian hackers in the election of Donald Trump. Far-right figures alleged he was killed as part of a cover-up.
After his death, Rich was proven to not be the source of any email leaks, with the Mueller Report—also known as the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election—finding Russian hackers responsible.