Aaron Swartz: Reddit cofounder’s family blames MIT, Boston prosecutors for suicide

This photo of Swartz at a 2008 event is posted on his Wikipedia page.

The family and partner of a former Harvard fellow who was indicted for allegedly hacking into a Massachusetts Institute of Technology database blamed federal prosecutors in Boston and the college for his suicide.

Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old cofounder of Reddit and Internet sharing activist, hanged himself Friday in his New York apartment, according to a statement posted online Saturday by his family and partner.

In the statement, his loved ones take aim at federal authorities and MIT and partially blame them for his suicide.

Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach,” his family and partner said in the statement. “Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT 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. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.”

Messages seeking comment from the US Attorney’s office in Boston and MIT were not immediately returned.

Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison and a fine of $1 million if convicted of the wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information and recklessly damaging a protected computer charges against him.

It was alleged that Swartz broke into a restricted computer wiring closet in a basement at MIT in order to download a major portion of archived digitized academic journals on to his computer.

The journals were a part of JSTOR, a paid subscription database used to access millions of primary sources. Some universities pay as much as $50,000 for an annual subscription.

Prosecutors said that Swartz intended to distribute millions of documents from JSTOR’s archive through other file-sharing sites.

According to Swartz’s website, he was the founder of Demand Progress, a political action committee that campaigns on various online and privacy issues, and a fellow at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

Countless outpourings of sympathy were posted online after news of Swartz’s death broke.

Lawrence Lessig, director of Harvard’s center for ethics, posted on his website that he was Swartz’s friend and spoke with him after being indicted.

“Aaron was always and only working for (at least his conception of) the public good. He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius,” Lessig posted online.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.

News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.