Tag: Aaron Swartz

MIT Releases Report on Aaron Swartz

MIT has released a 182 page report on its actions in the Aaron Swartz case. The website for the documents is here. The President of MIT describes the report as:

...an independent description of the actual events at MIT and of MIT's decisions in the context of what MIT knew as the events unfolded. The report also sets the record straight by dispelling widely circulated myths. For example, it makes clear that MIT did not “target” Aaron Swartz, we did not seek federal prosecution,
punishment or jail time, and we did not oppose a plea bargain.

MIT says it adopted a policy of neutrality. MIT did not say it was opposed to jail time, only that it wasn't seeking it. It rejected his defense team and family's requests to take a position against the prosecution. [More...]

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Aaron Swartz Lawyers Seek Misconduct Review Against Prosecutor

Via Ryan Grim and Ryan Reilly at Huffington Post, Aaron Swartz's lawyers have asked the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility to review the conduct of AUSA Stephen Heymann. In their letter to OPR, available here, they allege Heymann withheld evidence and improperly sought to coerce Swartz into a plea deal. From the letter:

First, AUSA Heymann appears to have failed timely to disclose exculpatory evidence relevant to Mr. Swartz's pending motion to suppress. Indeed, evidence suggests AUSA Heymann may have misrepresented to the Court the extent of the federal government's involvement in the investigation into Mr. Swartz's conduct prior to the application for certain search warrants.

Second, AUSA Heymann appears to have abused his discretion when he attempted to coerce Mr. Swartz into foregoing his right to a trial by pleading guilty. Specifically, AUSA Heymann offered Mr. Swartz four to six months in prison for a guilty plea, while threatening to seek over seven years in prison if Mr. Swartz chose to go to trial.

Swartz' lawyers say they are filing the claim on behalf of Aaron's family. [More...]

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Holder Defends Aaron Swartz Prosecution

During today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Department of Justice Oversight, Attorney General Eric Holder defended the prosecution of Aaron Swartz. He said prosecutors offered him a three month sentence and later said they would seek six months. He said the charges carried a potential of 35 years in prison.

What about the overcharging? Any prosecutor can overcharge and then offer you a deal to what you should have been charged with in the first place. What kind of deal is that?

Holder said DOJ has examined the matter and determined the prosecutors acted appropriately. Their examination included talking to the prosecutors. Did they talk to defense counsel? [More...]

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New Details on Aaron Swartz

The New Yorker has a new article about Aaron Swartz, mostly consisting of quotes from his family and friends. It's very sad.

Aaron's former girlfriend, Quinn Norton, has an article in the Atlantic, "Life Inside the Aaron Swartz Investigation" about her experience as "a reluctant witness" in the Government's case against Swartz. The Atlantic's editors have written this post about her article. [More....]

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Rep. Issa Writes Letter to DOJ on Aaron Swartz

Via Wired, Congressmen Darryl Issa and Elijah Cummings have written this letter to the Department of Justice asking for information on the Aaron Swartz prosecution.

Among other things, the letter inquires as to whether the prosecution's decisions were influenced by Aaron's opposition to SOPA or his association with other advocacy groups. It also asks if the investigation uncovered other hacking attempts by Aaron. Why not ask if it was influenced by the FBI's prior investigation into his downloading of PACER documents. In 2009, Aaron posted the FBI documents on the investigation, which he received via an FOIA request.

I'd have more confidence if someone other than Issa was leading this inquiry. But at least someone is asking.

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Anonymous "Operation Last Resort" Takes Down U.S. Sentencing Site

Anonymous has hacked the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission in retaliation for the suicide of Aaron Swartz and in protest of the overly harsh federal sentencing guidelines and policies of the Department of Justice, particularly for hactivists. More here.

From the video: They have been plotting and holding their tongue, but with the death of Aaron, they will wait no longer. They have decided to give the Justice Department a taste of its own medicine and show it the true meaning of infiltration. It wants legislative change and a return to proportionality in sentencing. Today is just the beginning. [More...]

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U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz Speaks About Aaron Swartz

Mass. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz answered some questions at a news conference about Aaron Swartz yesterday. She acknowledged the office knew he had mental health issues at his arraignment, 18 months ago.

Ortiz said “some issues about his mental health came up” about 18 months ago, but they were addressed during his arraignment.

As I wrote here, they were addressed by the Court ordering "medical or psychiatric treatment as directed" as a condition of bond.

But Aaron's father today, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, denies Aaron had a longstanding problem with depression. [More...]

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Husband of MA AUSA Criticizes Swartz Family Obit on Twitter

A petition to the White House to remove Mass. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz for her office's handling of the Aaron Swartz case has gathered 37,000 signatures. 25,000 signatures are necessary for a response from the White House.

Ortiz' husband, Tom Dolan, took to Twitter and criticized the Swartz family for its obituary, claiming it left out the 6 month offer to Aaron. Then Dolan deleted his Twitter account. But you can see it here. [More...]

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Did the Justice System Fail Aaron Swartz?

Two of Aaron Swartz's attorneys, one current and one former, say that the Government wanted Aaron Swartz to plead guilty to all 13 counts in the Superseding Indictment, and it would recommend a sentence of six months in confinement.

Aaron's first attorney, Andrew Good, also says he told the Government Aaron was a suicide risk.

[Good]said he told federal prosecutors in Massachusetts that Swartz was a suicide risk. “Their response was, put him in jail, he’ll be safe there,” Good said.


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MIT to Conduct Internal Probe on its Role in Aaron Swartz Case

MIT announced it will conduct an internal probe of its role in the events that led to Aaron Swartz' suicide. MIT President Raul Reif writes:

I have asked Professor Hal Abelson to lead a thorough analysis of MIT's involvement from the time that we first perceived unusual activity on our network in fall 2010 up to the present. I have asked that this analysis describe the options MIT had and the decisions MIT made, in order to understand and to learn from the actions MIT took. I will share the report with the MIT community when I receive it.

Also Sunday, Anonymous hacked MIT's website, posting a tribute to Aaron and calling for reform. [More...]

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