This file photo shows Aaron Swartz, a US internet activist, who was critical of US President Barack Obama’s policies and was recently found dead in his apartment.
A new report confirms that American dissident blogger Aaron Swart was illegitimately threatened by Federal prosecutors to decades in prison for downloading freely available academic papers before his dead body was discovered in his apartment.
A report this week in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reveals that state prosecutors that investigate Swartz had intended to let him off only with a severe warning but Federal Government Prosecutor Carmen Ortiz intervened in the case, bent on making an example of the genius Internet activist who was an advocate of free information and had criticized joint US-Israeli cyber attacks against Iran.
According to the report, a local country’s district attorney had planned no jail time for the 26-year-old Swartz, but “tragedy intervened when Ortiz’s office took over the case to send ‘a message.’”
The report is widely expected to trigger an online campaign against the federal prosecutor, who has been censured for threatening the young activist with a 30-year prison term for allegedly downloading a huge volume of freely-accessed academic papers.
The development comes after Aaron’s father, Robert Swartz said his son was “killed by the [US] government” during his funeral at a Chicago Synagogue on January 15. “He was killed by the government, and MIT betrayed all of its basic principles,” he added.
He was referring to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Aaron attended college and widely regarded as one of the best universities in the US that is known to conduct many contract research projects for the American government.
In a January 17 interview with The Los Angeles Times
, Robert Swartz further insisted that “the evidence showed clearly that Aaron did not break the law, that the [MIT] network was open, that access was not unauthorized by MIT, and that he was not guilty of any crime.”
“In this instance,” he added, “when the people who destroyed the [US] financial system go free, to think that they were charging Aaron in this way displays a complete miscarriage of justice.”
Meanwhile, the death of Swartz, one of the founders of news and entertainment website Reddit, has also triggered outrage among many professionals in the US electronic community who, according to local press reports, regard him as a “martyr to government prosecution.”
In a January 15 email statement to local media outlets, the group reportedly wrote, “Today is the funeral of Aaron Swartz, who contributed so much to the launch of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and our technology during our first 20 months.”
The statement further attributed Swartz’s death to “an over-zealous prosecution for a crime with no victims - by a Justice Department that has yet to prosecute the Wall Street bankers who destroyed our economy and harmed millions of lives.”
Additionally, in a ‘memorial website’ Swartz’s family described his death as “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”
“Decision made by officials in the Massachusetts US attorney’s office and at MIT,” it added, “contributed to his death. The US attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims.”