Right-wing author Jerome Corsi issued an apology on Monday and retracted an InfoWars story he wrote spreading a conspiracy theory about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.
In the retraction, which was featured on the front page of InfoWars, a fringe website with a long history of spreading conspiracy theories, Corsi conceded that “his allegations were not based upon any independent factual knowledge.”
“It was not Dr. Corsi’s intent to rely upon inaccurate information, or to cause any suffering to Mr. Rich’s family,” reads the retraction. “To that end, Dr. Corsi retracts the article and apologizes to the Rich family.”
The retraction was requested by the legal team for Aaron Rich, the brother of Seth Rich, a spokesperson for Aaron Rich’s legal team told CNN.
Corsi’s retracted story cited a Washington Times column that said, without evidence, that Seth Rich leaked a trove of DNC emails to WikiLeaks.
The Washington Times column, which Corsi relied on for his own article, was deleted in October 2018 after Aaron Rich filed a lawsuit against the conservative newspaper and others.
“The Column included statements about Aaron Rich, the brother of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, that we now believe to be false,” read part of the Washington Times’ retraction.
The Washington Times’ column, which the lawsuit said was published both online and in print, stated that it was “well known in intelligence circles that Seth Rich and his brother, Aaron Rich, downloaded the DNC emails and was paid by Wikileaks for that information.”
Seth Rich was fatally shot in Washington, DC, in July 2016. Police have said evidence indicates he was the victim of a botched robbery, but in the wake of his death, far-right activists and media organizations suggested something far more sinister.
Without real evidence, these far-right activists peddled a conspiracy theory that said Seth Rich leaked a trove of DNC emails to Wikileaks and was killed in retribution for the supposed leak. The theory was convenient for some on the right as they disputed allegations Russia hacked the DNC, something President Donald Trump had raised doubts about.
Joshua Riley and Meryl Governski, who also serve as part of Aaron Rich’s counsel, said in a joint-statement that “the apology and retraction issued today by Mr. Corsi and posted by Infowars is another important step toward obtaining justice for the Rich family.”
“We will continue to litigate our defamation claims against conspiracy theorists who refuse to retract and apologize for similar false statements,” Riley and Governski said.
A representative for InfoWars did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon. But Corsi tweeted that as a Christian, he has “sympathy for the suffering the Seth Rich family has gone through.”
Corsi also told CNN that he retracted this specific story because it relied on information that had been retracted by the Washington Times. However, he said that he continues to believe that it’s possible that the leak of DNC emails was an inside job and that investigators should look into whether Seth Rich played a role.
Corsi, an acquaintance of Trump ally Roger Stone, has spent years spreading right-wing conspiracy theories. In recent months, he has found himself caught in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into election interference.
Despite previously saying he was cooperating with investigators, Corsi filed a lawsuit in December 2018 against Mueller claiming federal authorities unconstitutionally searched his phone and electronic records.