Late on Saturday, Swartz’s family issued a statement mourning the loss of their loved one’s “curiosity, creativity” and “commitment to social justice.” They also put some of the blame for Swartz’s death on federal prosecutors.
“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy,” the statement reads. “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. 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.”
That sentiment was echoed by Harvard University Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, a friend of Swartz, wrote a withering blog post attacking the Department of Justice for its misplaced zeal …
The people they are pointing the finger at are U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and prosecutor Scott Garland. The issue is their decision to charge Swartz with numerous felonies for his decision to download millions of scholarly articles from the non-profit database JSTOR using systems at MIT.
But Swartz returned all of the articles. JSTOR settled with him and objected to the prosecutions. “Aaron returned the data he had in his possession and JSTOR settled any civil claims we might have had against him in June 2011,” JSTOR said in a statement Saturday. HuffPo noted, “Had JSTOR wanted to pursue civil charges against Swartz for breach of contract, it could have. But JSTOR did not, and washed its hands of the whole affair. In 2013, JSTOR made several million academic journal articles available to anyone, free of charge.”
“Unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles,” the family said in its statement.
Frank Phillips wrote an article last month floating Ortiz’ name for Governor. Garland’s bio is here.