Kim Dotcom threatens to sue Seth Rich’s family for defamation

Kim Dotcom threatens to sue Seth Rich's family for defamation

Kim Dotcom, a popular Internet entrepreneur, is currently embroiled in a row over claims he might have hacked into the e-mail account of the murdered Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich.

He now has released an open letter to Rich’s family clarifying his points about the ongoing dispute and has shared the letter with IBTimes UK.

Family of Seth Rich

c/- Aaron Rich


Dear Aaron


1. As you know, you and I have previously corresponded after I reached out to you to offer

my assistance with the GoFundMe campaign on behalf of the family of Mr Rich (family).

I understand from our communications that you are representing the family in relation to

the ongoing investigation into Mr Rich’s death and I am writing to you in that capacity.

2. In particular, I am writing regarding recent statements about me that have been reported

globally (including in New Zealand) and attributed to the family. As set out in more detail

below, some of these statements are false and defamatory.

3. The purpose of this letter is to formally request that the family and their representatives

cease from making such statements about me going forward. This request is made in the

spirit of us constructively moving forward and allowing the investigation into the DNC leak

to progress without delay so that there can be an informed decision on whether it had any

involvement in Mr Rich’s death, as many fear.

4. However, if these statements do not cease, it will be necessary for me to take further

action. It is ironic that the family complain of others potentially making statements that

they fear (without actually knowing) will be incorrect and then make incorrect statements

about me themselves.

5. I remain prepared to assist in the investigation, as I have said. While I want to show

understanding to the family in this difficult time, I also maintain that what I have said is true

and will be substantiated upon investigation. While that may be difficult for the family to

accept, in time I expect it to play a valuable part in revealing the truth. However, that is a

matter for the current investigation. I simply wish to make sure that the investigators have

the benefit of my evidence.

6. I have said that I will share what I know, and why, with the relevant authorities if the

appropriate arrangements can be made. That is what I understand from our

communications the family also want. The family, once fully informed, can then make up

their own mind, as will the investigation. However, that will not happen by ignoring the

evidence of witnesses like me who are prepared to speak up, or by seeking to discredit such witnesses by pre-emptively attacking their credibility. I simply ask that the family

listen, before attacking.

The statements

7. The statements in question include:

(a) variations on the statements below reported in the Washington Post article ‘The life

and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory’; and

(b) allegations in the letter I understand the family sent to Fox News to the effect that I

have previously used false evidence.

8. Both are without any factual basis, for the reasons set out below.

Washington Post article

9. The Washington Post article states (in part):

When Seth Rich’s Gmail account received an alert this week from,

attempting to start a new account on a website created by the New Zealand-based

Internet businessman and convicted hacker Kim Dotcom, his family knew that

something was off.Over seven frenzied days, Dotcom had become a leading purveyor of the theory

that Rich, a staffer at the Democratic National Committee who was shot dead

near his home in Northeast Washington last summer, had supplied DNC

documents to WikiLeaks and was killed as a result. Multiple security analysts and

an FBI investigation have tied the release to hackers with ties to Russia. D.C.

police have said repeatedly that they think Rich was slain in a random robbery


According to experts and Rich’s family, the emailed invitation from appeared to be an attempt to gain access to Rich’s email.

Joel Rich, who maintains his late son’s Gmail account, did not click the link.

Meanwhile, Dotcom was promising on Twitter to prove that the younger Rich had

been in contact with WikiLeaks — and Fox News host Sean Hannity was telling

his 2.37 million Twitter followers to be ready for a revelation.

The latest revelation — that a hacker from New Zealand may have been trying as

recently as this week to hack into Rich’s email — offered fresh evidence that the

conspiracy theory is false. Dotcom, it seemed, may have been willing to create a

fake archive of emails from Rich to “prove” his role in the DNC hack.

10. The clear inference the reader is invited to draw from the above is that I attempted to

hack Mr Rich’s email account. This is simply not true and is made without any genuine

foundation. As you know, the email correspondence between us can be checked and

contains no such threat.

11. It is alleged that Mr Rich’s email account received a verification email from

That may be so. But that does not mean that any attempt was made to hack his email

account. Literally anyone could have gone to and registered an account there

using Mr Rich’s gmail address, which was publicly known. That would then have

resulted in Mega sending a verification email to that address. If someone had registered

Mr Rich’s email at Dropbox for example, Dropbox would likewise have sent a

confirmation link. That has nothing to do with hacking.

12. If there has been an attempt to hack Mr Rich’s email account, I know nothing of it and

there is no connection to me. There is no credible basis in fact to link me to any attempted

hacking of Mr Rich’s email. If the family genuinely believe they can establish a link, which

I do not accept, then by all means disclose that and I will respond to it and rebut it openly.

I would welcome this. Once the allegation is shown to be without foundation, the focus

could once again return to the DNC leaks and Mr Rich’s death.

13. The suggestion that I am attempting to plant evidence into Mr Rich’s email account

would appear to be an attempt to discredit any evidence I may give before I have a

chance to give it. That those who seek to speak the truth are, as I have been, subjected

to a smear campaign to try to discredit them indicates to me that the truth is known and

not welcome.

Letter to Fox News

14. The family’s letter to Fox News includes the following false statements about me:

(a) “In March, Kim circulated a letter purporting to show a conspiracy against him”.

(b) “New Zealand law enforcement officials investigated the letter thoroughly and

discovered without a shadow of a doubt that the letter was a forgery”.

(c) “[He has] in the past, been caught using fabricated email evidence to forward his

own agenda and confuse people”.

(d) “[He is] known to have pushed false evidence in the past”.

15. These statements are incorrect because:

(a) I did not, in March or at any other time, circulate a letter purporting to show a

conspiracy against me. The alleged “letter” and “fabricated email evidence”

referred to is an alleged email from Kevin Tsujihara (Chief Executive of Warner

Brothers) to Michael Ellis (Asia-Pacific president of the Motion Picture Association

of America) (Email). The Email came to light in 2014. I did not publish, and never

used, this email as, once it was provided to me, I was concerned as to whether it

was reliable.

(b) I did not circulate the Email. Rather, the New Zealand Herald obtained a copy of

the Email and published it. For my part, I have publicly and transparently stated

that the email was easy to discredit because it did not have headers and I declined

to use it for that reason. It is a matter of public record that the Email was not in fact

used or disclosed by me. This is of course the opposite of what the statements in

the family’s letter contend.

16. Accordingly, there is no factual basis for the statements in the letter. To the contrary, the

facts clearly indicate that I was not prepared to, and did not, use evidence that could not

be verified. To suggest otherwise is misleading and defamatory.

A way forward

17. The statements above appear to have been a calculated “pre-emptive strike” on my

reputation and credibility. The sad irony is that, as my conduct since receipt of the family’s

email clearly shows, I was, and remain, prepared to accommodate the family’s wishes.

Indeed, for respecting their wishes and making no further public comment, I have been

subjected to considerable criticism online and in the global media. However, I was

prepared to weather this criticism in the interests of accommodating the family’s concerns.

18. It is unfortunate that matters have come to this as my objective is the same as the family’s

– to see that the truth comes out and justice is done. What appears to have been

overlooked is that the easiest thing for someone in my position to do in this situation would

be to say nothing at all. However, that would not have helped or been right.

19. As should be clear from my conduct, and the emails we exchanged, I do not wish to cause

any distress for the family. But nor can I sit idly by without communicating what I know to

the appropriate authorities. I will, through my legal team, progress the necessary

arrangements with the authorities.

20. As I have repeatedly stated, while this process is ongoing, I do not intend to make further

public comment. However, I now find myself in the invidious position where, out of

deference and respect to the family, I have declined to make further public comment but

now find my reputation and credibility under attack from the family. If I am forced to

respond publicly to these incorrect and unfair allegations, it would have the opposite effect

of what the family has asked me to do and I have sought to accommodate.

21. I therefore request that, in the meantime, the family refrain from repeating the false

statements described in this letter. I have not taken the step of commencing defamation

proceedings in relation to the above statements although I would be entitled to do so in

New Zealand. I reserve all of my rights and remedies in this regard. My preference is that

the family and I move forward together. If, after learning what I have to say through the

appropriate channels (as requested by the family), the family choose not to accept it, that

is a matter for the family. I seek only to pass on what I know so that the truth can be fully

and openly investigated and then reported on. Why that should cause me to be unduly

attacked raises more questions than it answers. My view is that the truth is not something

to be feared.

22. If, however, the statements are repeated, I will have no choice but to consider the formal

legal options available to me. I hope this will not be necessary, hence this correspondence.

23. Please consider this request made in good faith and confirm by return that the family and

its agents will cease from further linking me to the alleged attempted hack of Mr Rich’s

email and other unsupportable allegations ( via ).

Yours sincerely,

Kim Dotcom

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