The 5 Most Shocking Revelations About The Government’s Prosecution Of Aaron Swartz You Haven’t Heard
By Megan Carpentier
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 17:23 EDT
Internet activist and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz’s suicide in January 2013 shocked friends, family and admirers alike. Friends, family and fellow activists blamed an overzealous prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s office — an allegation prosecutors denied — over Swartz’s efforts to download the entire JSTOR academic database on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s servers via a hidden computer and a program which allowed him to do so remotely. MIT, which had an open guest access policy but maintained “neutrality” on the federal prosecution of Swartz, came under fire as well, prompting the university to undertake a review of its policies.
The much-delayed report is notable for its in-depth timeline of events, which document the events which led to Swartz’s arrest from the university’s perspective, the tick-tock of the prosecution as it made its way from the state to federal courts at the insistence of the U.S. Attorney’s office (USAO) — which denied the state access to evidence and forced them to drop their case against Swartz for accessing university property — and the series of meetings taken by the university leaders, its Office of General Counsel (OGC) and its outside counsel prior to Swartz’s suicide.
Taken together, it provides a clearer picture of the gaping holes in the prosecution’s case against Swartz, the prosecutor’s mindset — which appears to bear out at least some of the allegations of Swartz’s supporters — and MIT’s own utter lack of interest in what occurred on their own campus and for which a young man was being prosecuted with them as the alleged victim.
1. The U.S. Attorney blamed Demand Progress’s blogpost and petition effort for his decision to seek further charges and more jail time for Aaron than initially outlined.