Left-wing activist and reddit.com co-founder Aaron Swartz allegedly committed suicide in his NYC home.
Supporters say the Obama administration was maliciously prosecuting him for computer fraud and these actions fueled his suicide. Swartz used a computer download massive amounts of taxpayer subsidized research documents. Swartz was authorized to download the files, but the government said Swartz committed fraud be downloading to many. Swartz felt the all the documents should be made public to everyone since the studies were subsidized by the US taxpayers. The documents were subsequently made public, but the Federal government continued to pursue charges anyway.
Swartz had been a leading left-wing critic of Obama and accused Obama of human rights abuses and warmongering.
The family and partner of Internet folk hero and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz are blaming MIT and the Justice Department for bullying him to his death.
Swartz, who was 26 years old, hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment Friday, after battling the Justice Department for more than a year and a half over allegations he illegally downloaded approximately 4 million scientific documents at MIT’s campus, with the goal of making the information freely and publicly available.
The documents were provided by JSTOR, the private online archiving service for academic research papers that contracted with MIT to provide students and researchers access to the information. Many of the documents contained research funded by taxpayers. (RELATED: Internet advocate and RSS pioneer commits suicide weeks before trial)
JSTOR dropped charges against Swartz, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office decided to pursue the case anyway. Swartz, who pleaded not guilty, was charged with 13 counts of felony hacking, potentially facing a million-dollar trial in April and approximately 30 years in federal prison.
Swartz committed suicide two days after JSTOR decided to make 4.5 million documents publicly available online.
He had publicly battled depression for several years, writing in one 2007 blog post that the illness makes “you feel as if streaks of pain are running through your head, you thrash your body, you search for some escape but find none. And this is one of the more moderate forms.”
But in an official statement released Saturday evening, his family and partner said, ”Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy.”
“It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death,” they said.
“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. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.”
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