(JTA) — The brother of Seth Rich, a Jewish Democratic National Committee staffer killed near his Washington, D.C., home in 2016, has filed a lawsuit against conservative media outlets and individuals.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday by Aaron Rich in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia alleges that those named in the lawsuit caused harm to his reputation and emotional distress for suggesting he played a role in the alleged theft of DNC emails dumped by WikiLeaks after his brother’s death, CNN reported.
The media outlets and individuals named in the lawsuit are wealthy Texas businessman Ed Butowsky; internet activist Matt Couch; America First Media, Couch’s media company; and The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper. They are accused, according to CNN, citing the lawsuit of “reckless disregard for the truth.”
Seth Rich, 27, a Nebraska native, was shot dead while walking home before dawn on July 10, 2016. Police have speculated that he was the victim of a robbery gone awry. Rich’s body was found about a block from his home with his wallet, watch and cellphone still in his possession. His murder remains unsolved.
His death sparked several conspiracy theories.
Several days after the death, WikiLeaks dumped a collection of DNC emails that U.S. intelligence officers now say was related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of Rich’s killer.
Aaron Rich’s lawsuit alleges that the people and media companies named pushed a conspiracy theory suggesting that he used his background as a defense contractor with technical expertise to suggest he worked with his brother to leak the DNC documents to WikiLeaks, received money for doing so, and then worked to cover it up.
Earlier this month, the parents of Seth Rich filed a federal lawsuit against Fox News for a story saying he was part of a conspiracy involving WikiLeaks. The federal lawsuit names Fox News, investigative reporter Malia Zimmerman and Butowsky, who works as a Fox commentator, as liable for the harm to their son’s reputation caused by the report.