The Washington Times issued a retraction and an apology after publishing an op-ed about Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was killed in 2016, and his brother Aaron.
“The Column included statements about Aaron Rich, the brother of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, that we now believe to be false,” the news outlet said Sunday in its retraction.
The opinion piece, published in March and written by James A. Lyons, a retired United States Navy admiral, floated conspiracy theories linking the Rich brothers to WikiLeaks.
“The Washington Times now does not have any basis to believe any part of that statement to be true,” it said, adding after an apology that all online copies of the column have been deleted, as have references to the column elsewhere on the internet.
Rich sued The Washington Times and individual activists in March, accusing them of politicizing his brother’s death. After Seth was fatally shot in 2016, conservative outlets spread the conspiracy theory that the incident was linked to the leaked DNC emails. Sunday’s retraction, according to Rich’s attorney Michael Gottlieb, is part of the settlement.
“The last two years have brought unimaginable pain and grief to my family and me,” Aaron Rich said in a statement. “I lost my only brother to a murder that to this date has not been solved, only to then have politically motivated conspiracy theorists falsely accuse me of grotesque criminal acts. I accept the Washington Times’ retraction and apology, and I am grateful that the Washington Times has acknowledged the indisputable truth that these allegations are, and always have been, false. As to the remaining defendants, I look forward to my day in court.”
Fox News retracted its own story connecting Rich to the DNC emails last year, though it took the network a while to come around even after Washington, D.C. police and the FBI disputed some of the claims.
Rich’s parents subsequently filed suit against the network in March, accusing it of “intentionally exploiting” their son’s death.