Rich was working as a staffer for the Democratic National Committee when he was shot and killed on a Washington D.C. street in 2016. No arrests have ever been made in connection with the Rich killing.
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant, an Obama appointee, ruled in September that the bureau must hand over information from the computer to Brian Huddleston, who filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the information.
The FBI asserted that a release would violate the privacy of Rich's family members. Their assertion that these privacy interests outweighed public interest in the Seth Rich murder was ultimately denied by Mazzant, who ordered disclosure. Mazzant stated that the bureau failed to cite any relevant case law in their request.
In a new filing, U.S. lawyers are arguing that FOIA exemptions for information that are compiled for law enforcement purposes and "could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source," should be withheld.
"Given the Court's findings that except for the information related to Seth Rich's laptop withheld pursuant to Exemptions 6 and 7(C) based on privacy interests, the FBI properly withheld or redacted all other information responsive to Huddleston's requests, the production order seems inconsistent with the rest of the order," the motion stated.
The FBI previously claimed that it was not in possession of Seth Rich's laptop, or any information from it. Then, in 2020, the bureau admitted that it had several thousand files from the computer.
At that time, the FBI stated that it was "getting the files from Seth Rich's personal laptop into a format to be reviewed."