The family of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer murdered last year, fought back against allegations that he was a WikiLeaks source on Thursday.
On Friday evening, CNN's Oliver Darcy tweeted a cease and desist letter that the Riches sent to Rod Wheeler, their former private investigator who fueled the rumors in a TV report this week:
Wheeler, who had been working for the Riches via a third party benefactor, was interviewed by WTTG-TV, the Fox network's owned and operated station in Washington, D.C., where he suggested there was proof of the WikiLeaks connection. It then turned out his source was a FoxNews.com reporter who had interviewed him. Wheeler then claimed he misspoke.
In the cease and desist letter, the Rich family's lawyer notes that Wheeler has violated their written agreement, in which he said, among other things, that he would not share his findings and/or working theories with others. From the letter:
As you were aware at the time you entered into the Agreement, the murder of Seth Rich is a personal and highly-traumatic matter for the members of his Family. Your statements and actions have caused, and continue to cause, the Family severe mental anguish and emotional distress. Your behavior appears to have been deliberate, intentional, outrageous, and in patent disregard of the Agreement and the obvious damage and suffering it would cause to the Family.
Your improper and unauthorized statements, many of which are false and have no basis in fact, have also injured the memory and reputation of Seth Rich and have defamed and injured the reputation and standing of the members of the Family.
You are hereby directed to immediately and permanently CEASE AND DESIST from making any statements concerning Seth Rich, the murder of Seth Rich, the public investigations of the murder of Seth Rich, or any of your knowledge or activities concerning Seth Rich, his murder, or the investigatations thereof.
Wheeler did not immediately reply to CNN's request for comment on Friday.