FBI asks court for 66 years to release Seth Rich’s computer info

The FBI is asking a US court to overturn its order to produce information from Seth Rich’s laptop.

If the court doesn’t, the office wants 66 years to produce the information.

Rich was a Democratic National Committee staffer when he was killed in Washington in mid-2016.

Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant ruled in September that the office must turn over computer information to Brian Huddleston, a Texas man who filed a Freedom of Information request. Act (FOIA).

The FBI’s assertion that the privacy interests of Rich’s family members outweighed the public interest was dismissed by Mazzant, who noted that the bureau had not cited any relevant case law in the case. support of the argument.

But the decision was wrong, US lawyers said in a new filing.

The bureau should not have to produce the information due to FOIA exemptions for information compiled for law enforcement purposes and “could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source,” the officials said. attorneys in a motion for reconsideration. Another exemption, which allows agencies to withhold information that would disclose law enforcement techniques, also applies, they said.

“Given the Court’s findings that, with the exception of Seth Rich’s laptop information withheld under Exemptions 6 and 7(C) on the basis of privacy interests, the FBI has properly withheld or redacted all other information in response to Huddleston’s requests, the production order appears inconsistent with the rest of the order,” the motion reads.

The FBI, after claiming it never possessed Rich’s laptop or any information from it, admitted in 2020 that it had thousands of files from the computer.

The office is “currently working to obtain the files from Seth Rich’s personal laptop into a format for review,” the government said at the time.

Seth Rich, director of voter expansion data for the Democratic National Committee, in a file photo. (LinkedIn)

The information and material extracted from the computer was provided by a source to an FBI agent during a meeting on March 15, 2018, FBI records officer Michael Seidel said in a statement. He said the records include photographs and documents, among other things.

In the new filing, government lawyers said the FBI never extracted the data, which it said came from a law enforcement agency. They said the information is on a compact disc containing images from the laptop.

“The FBI did not initiate an investigation into the murder of Seth Rich, nor provide technical or investigative assistance to an investigation into the murder of Seth Rich. Accordingly, the FBI never extracted the data compact disc and never processed the information on the disc,” they said.

To produce the information, the FBI would have to convert the information on the disk to pages, then review the pages to redact the information in accordance with the FOIA, according to the government.

If Mazzant maintains his order, the FBI wants a long period of time to complete the work – 66 years, or 500 pages per month.

“If the court cancels the FBI’s request, the FBI wants to produce files at the rate of 500 pages per month. At this rate, it will take almost 67 years just to produce the documents, not to mention the images and other files,” Ty Clevenger, an attorney representing Huddleston, told The Epoch Times in an email.

“After dealing with the FBI for five years, I now assume the FBI is lying to me unless and until they prove otherwise. The FBI is desperately trying to hide files on Seth Rich, and that begs the question to know why.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suggested Rich leaked Democratic National Committee (DNC) files to WikiLeaks, but Special Counsel Robert Mueller said the real source was Russian hackers. Still, Mueller’s conclusion contradicts statements from CrowdStrike, the company hired to investigate how the DNC files were released.

Zachary Stieber

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Zachary Stieber covers US and world news for The Epoch Times. He is based in Maryland.