Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, awaiting federal trial, commits suicide at 26; Mourners, family blame government overreach

https://twitter.com/codinghorror/status/290216256727052288

“Why” is always the first question that comes to mind when hearing about a suicide, and Reddit co-founder had a history of blogging about his depression. A brilliant student who co-created the RSS specification at 14, Swartz was also the founder of a political action group called Demand Progress and is largely credited with defeating SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. The man who argued for the freedom of information on the web, though, was facing federal trial this spring on charges of computer fraud and illegally obtaining documents from protected computers.

Swartz was found dead yesterday, and news of his death had many pointing the finger at the federal government and its prosecution of Swartz over the alleged theft of millions of online academic documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011. Some estimated that Swartz was facing up to 50 years in prison and millions in fines, even though JSTOR, the non-profit hosting the files, chose not to file charges.

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https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/290167072762261504

https://twitter.com/jeffjarvis/status/290124725877882880

Swartz’s family issued an official statement Saturday evening, wasting no time in connecting the government’s case against Swartz to his death.

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. 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.

Here’s video of Swartz speaking about SOPA at the Freedom to Connect conference in Washington, D.C.:

  • Rick Stones

    Bush’s fault?

    • http://twitter.com/thetugboatphil TugboatPhil

      Yeah. I wonder how many of those tweeters voted for the most over reaching federal government ever, and also willingly submitted to their health care being run by the same people.

      • http://twitter.com/1RandiStarr Randi Starr

        shhhhhhhh.

      • GaryTheBrave

        I was wondering the same thing. I also wonder if Aaron was a big Obama supporter even as O was persecuting him.

    • http://twitter.com/1RandiStarr Randi Starr

      I had no doubt.

  • William

    Anyone still believe we have a government “Of the People and For the People”? 30 years for a victimless crime, that’s 25 years longer then the average sentence for murder in California.

  • http://twitter.com/1RandiStarr Randi Starr

    But, but I thought they looovvveeeddd this government, they voted for this government.

  • ZoriahShepard

    I’m not very informed about Aaron Swartz and his legal battles but its always a tragedy when someone chooses to end his/her own life. Coupled with his depression it seems this aggressive prosecution was too much for him to carry. Poor soul.

  • stuckinIL4now

    “Aaron’s death is … the product of a
    criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial
    overreach.” Welcome to Obamuh’s Amerika and Holder’s Injustice System. And I’m with the tweeter who suspects it’s homicide rather than suicide.

  • Stone Bryson

    I typed up a lengthy reply, to answer many of these comments, but it seemed so inadequate I deleted it. Thus I’ll just say “Rest in peace, Aaron. I admire and respect the fight you fought, both within and without.”

    • waltzingmtilda

      Well said. I had never heard of Aaron before yesterday, but the more research I do into this the more appalled I am. Aaron’s story has been a real eye-opener for me. May he rest in peace.

    • waltzingmtilda

      Well said. I had never heard of Aaron before yesterday, but the more research I do into this the more appalled I am. Aaron’s story has been a real eye-opener for me. May he rest in peace.

  • ceemack

    So, Glenn Greenwald and his ilk are upset that this person had his rights trampled upon by the federal government.

    And yet they’re perfectly happy with the idea of the same government taking away our Second Amendment rights.

    Liberals really can’t connect the dots, can they?

    • Robert Hoover

      They cannot at all. Remember, they want an ever more powerful gov’t. This current gov’t is not controlling enough, the left want MUCH more power for gov’t.

  • waltzingmtilda

    From the USDOJ website:

    UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
    CARMEN M. ORTIZ
    DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS

    Carmen M. Ortiz has dedicated much of her professional career to public service. Nominated by President Barack Obama, as the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Ms. Ortiz was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November 2009.

  • whatsavvysays

    Call me insensitive, but I don’t feel sorry for him. For every choice there is a consequence. Instead of facing his problems he chose the cowardly, easy way out and left people hurt. The government didn’t tell him to take his own life. The government didn’t tell him to break the law. He made a choice and his family is suffering for his choice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.dean.564 Lisa Dean

      Anytime someone feels the only way to deal with their problems is to take their own life isn’t done hastily. Aaron dealt with depression which may have multiplied those feelings. I doubt he felt that was an easy way out.