Aaron Swartz, the programmer and internet activist, committed suicide Friday Jan. 11. The first reports were according to his uncle, Michael Wolf, in a comment to The Tech, he was 26.
“The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true,” confirmed Swartz’ attorney, Elliot R. Peters of Kecker and Van Nest, in an email to The Tech.
Back in July 2011, Swartz was arrested for allegedly illegally downloading millions of academic journal articles “with the intent to distribute them”, from the JSTOR digital archive. Swartz appeared in court on Sept. 24, 2012 and pleaded not guilty.
Swartz had also been a co-founder of DemandProgress.org, a “campaign against the Internet censorship bills SOPA/PIPA” as described by the Toronto Sun.
Via Ars Technica
Coder and information activist Aaron Swartz took his life on Friday, and in the wake of his death the outpouring of grief from the tech community is palpable. While Swartz wrote publicly about depression, many have speculated that his legal troubles compounded the sense of hopelessness that drove him to take his life. On Saturday afternoon, Swartz's family and his partner released a statement corroborating that idea:
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.
Today, we grieve for the extraordinary and irreplaceable man that we have lost.
The family said that Aaron's funeral will be held in Highland Park, IL, on Tuesday January 15.
Alex Stamos, the CTO of Artemis Internet and an expert witness who was working with Swartz's attorneys to testify in the the April US vs. Swartz trial, also wrote a long post detailing what he knew of the case. The Feds accused Swartz of logging on to MIT's network illegally and using that access, “to download a major portion of JSTOR's archive onto his computers.” The Department of Justice officially accused him of wire fraud, computer fraud, recklessly damaging a protected computer, among other charges.
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