Last Updated on October 29, 2022
The FBI is asking a federal court to reverse its order that demanded the bureau to disclose information from a laptop belonging to Seth Rich. If the judge refuses, the FBI has asked for a delay of 66 years. Rich was working as a staffer for the Democratic National Committee when he was shot and killed on a Washington D.C. street in 2016. No arrests have ever been made in connection with the Rich killing.
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant, an Obama appointee, ruled in September that the bureau must hand over information from the computer to Brian Huddleston, who filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the information.
The FBI asserted that a release would violate the privacy of Rich’s family members. Their assertion that these privacy interests outweighed public interest in the Seth Rich murder was ultimately denied by Mazzant, who ordered disclosure. Mazzant stated that the bureau failed to cite any relevant case law in their request.
In a new filing, U.S. lawyers are arguing that FOIA exemptions for information that are compiled for law enforcement purposes and “could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source,” should be withheld.
“Given the Court’s findings that except for the information related to Seth Rich’s laptop withheld pursuant to Exemptions 6 and 7(C) based on privacy interests, the FBI properly withheld or redacted all other information responsive to Huddleston’s requests, the production order seems inconsistent with the rest of the order,” the motion stated.
The FBI previously claimed that it was not in possession of Seth Rich’s laptop, or any information from it. Then, in 2020, the bureau admitted that it had several thousand files from the computer.
At that time, the FBI stated that it was “getting the files from Seth Rich’s personal laptop into a format to be reviewed.”
Files and other material extracted from the laptop were provided to the FBI from a source in 2018, FBI records officer Michael Seidel wrote in a filing.
In the latest filing, government attorneys have claimed that the FBI never extracted the data, saying it come from a different law enforcement agency. The filing stated that photos from the Seth Rich laptop are currently stored on a compact disc.
“The FBI did not open an investigation into the murder of Seth Rich, nor did it provide investigative or technical assistance to any investigation into the murder of Seth Rich. As a result, the FBI has never extracted the data from the compact disc and never processed the information contained on the disc,” government lawyers said.
In order to produce the information, the FBI would need to convert the data into pages, which would then be reviewed and redacted per FOIA, said lawyers for the bureau.
If Judge Mazzant opts to uphold the order, the FBI is asking for a whopping 67 years to process and disclose information from the laptop. “If the court overrules the FBI’s motion, the FBI wants to produce records at a rate of 500 pages per month. At that rate, it will take almost 67 years just to produce the documents, never mind the images and other files,” Ty Clevenger, a lawyer representing Huddleston, told The Epoch Times in an email.
“After dealing with the FBI for five years, I now assume that the FBI is lying to me unless and until it proves otherwise. The FBI is desperately trying to hide records about Seth Rich, and that begs the question of why.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has suggested Rich leaked Democratic National Committee (DNC) files to WikiLeaks. This has been denied by former FBI Director and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who blamed the leak on Russian hackers.