SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 8, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – A US judge has ordered Twitter to
reveal the identity of an anonymous user who allegedly fueled a discredited
conspiracy theory about the 2016 death of a Democratic party worker.
Twitter has been given an October 20 deadline to provide information about
the @whysprtech handle, which was allegedly used to pass on forged FBI
materials about staffer Seth Rich.
Rich was slain in Washington in what police believe was a botched robbery
attempt, according to court documents. The case remains unsolved.
Twitter had fought to keep the identity secret on free speech grounds, but
US District Court Judge Donna Ryu ruled Tuesday that protection has limits.
The identity of the person behind @whysprtech is being sought by Rich’s
brother, Aaron, as part of a defamation lawsuit against defendants including
America First Media and The Washington Times.
The Twitter account may be the source of the bogus FBI report that fueled
the conspiracy theory, and its user could be a valuable witness in the
lawsuit, according to court documents.
In the lead-up to the 2016 US presidential election, WikiLeaks published
emails stolen from the DNC, where Seth Rich was a staff member.
The lawsuit says the defendants wrongly linked Aaron Rich and his brother
to the stolen emails and their transmission to WikiLeaks.
Twitter declined to comment on the ruling.