Prosecutor Rightly Blamed for Death of Aaron Swartz


Seems to me that characterizing a prosecutor for filing and pressing charges against someone who probably has the best and brightest criminal / free speech / free internet attorneys defending him as a bully is a bit much. Its almost like you blame the prosecutor for his death. Oh, wait.

From the couple of articles that covered this issue, it seems like his conduct violated some laws and even folks on his side acknowledge this (while disagreeing with the laws or the magnitude of harm). Prosecutors add as many charges as could possibly stick to use as a "stick" in subsequent plea negotiations.

One of the articles mentioned that there were plea discussions and offers from the prosecutor over the last year and Mr. Swartz rejected them as they would have required him to plead to some sort of felony. Was there any jail time associated with that plea proposal?

Unless you can answer these sorts of questions regarding the plea offers from the prosecutors, this is just going to lead to internet "intimidation and overreach" against Ms. Ortiz.
The Mercury should be embarrassed to publish this drivel. Instead of focusing on the very real mental health crisis in the USA (suicide is now the leading cause of death for young men), this shitbucket of an author capitalizes on this tragedy for tangential political reasons.
Graham, that's the most disgusting sentiment of all. The guy was pretty much bullied into depression and suicide by the government. There's no reason at all why we shouldn't be examining the bullying and asking ourselves what needs to change, unless one's kneejerk reaction is to presume the government can't be wrong.
Saying that he was bullied into depression by the government is absurd. He broke the law, he was prosecuted for it. That's not bullying, it's common sense. If he didn't agree with the law, fair enough (I kind of agree with him on that), but that doesn't mean you can break it and expect to get away with it.
@Stu et al – It couldn’t be more plainly obvious that you haven’t been threatened by anyone ever in your life, especially not a judge or police officer.

Sit locked in a cage for 16+ hours, then have the highest powered legal prosecutor in the state tell you that you’re going to spend 175,000+ hours (20 years) in jail. The pressure isn’t easy, this is why people usually roll over.

In this case, the prosecutor was clearly and obviously looking for a plea deal for this person to become a snitch. That’s the way it works in computer hacking and activism. I’ve been asked to become a snitch, I’ve had no less than 4 informants in my life that I know of. I do not blame people for becoming informants, because they were likely in the same impossible situation this person was in: a guaranteed 20+ years in jail, or accept a “plea” and lose all of your lifelong friends and community, to become a tool of the system you probably despise. Fortunately, I was not being prosecuted when I was asked to become an informant, but many people are put between a rock and hard place. It is typically the number 1 goal of law enforcement to get high-powered, intelligent, and connected people to snitch, rather than lock them up.

If my assumptions about this case are true, I can understand why this man would pick suicide. We lost one hell of an innovator due to a victimless crime, and surely this can be squarely placed on the prosecutor.
That's not common sense, that's ignoring everything that's been said so far. Read the quote from his family in the article, that sounds like bullying to me. He was facing 30 years on trumped up charges for downloading a bunch of files that were readily available and easily accessible. He was accused of multiple counts of fraud and of damaging computers when those were all patently false. If you disagree with the law, you can't really separate that from what happened here, because the law is also excessive and part of the bullying. I mean, 35 years for downloading too many articles? That's absurd. The prosecutor has the discretion to pursue the case (or not) as they wish, and in this case they should have known better.
This is a tragedy and clear prosecutorial overreach. Don't take my word, consider Mr Internet Law himself, Lawrence Lessig:….

Then consider contributing your signature to this:…

By the way, if you have a Multnomah Library card, you have access to JSTOR, free. That's where the files are he was accused of stealing.

The real issue is the cost of higher education, including academic publishing, is not changing with society, the economy and the open source movement. That is what Aaron Swartz was getting at.
I think if just once we heard of a clear case of "prosecutorial overreach" regarding say a bank exec, or congressman, the reaction might be a little different.

Instead, such cases generally involve little people trying to blow a whistle on corporations or the government or both. See also, Bradley Manning, Tim DeChristopher.