UPDATE, January 15th, 13:35: There is a great piece here on Alternet explaining the security state background to the pursuit of Aaron Swartz. Now this is change you can really believe in!
As you can read from this re-posted article from the Boston Globe’s website, the row over the way the prosecuting authorities in Massachusetts handled the case of internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz who committed suicide last weekend shows no sign of abating.
Swartz’s family issued a statement at the weekend effectively blaming US Attorney Carmen Ortiz for persisting in the case despite a plea from the body that was allegedly hacked by Swartz that charges should be dropped. Swartz had used a computer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to leech millions of academic articles from JSTOR, a subscription only service for universities and research bodies.
Swartz objected to JSTOR’s business model, which charges subscription fees of up to $50,000 p.a. yet pays no compensation to the authors of articles it sells. Swartz apparently meant to distribute the articles free of charge. After he was caught, JSTOR asked that there be no prosecution but once MIT prevaricated, Ortiz’s offices stepped in with charges that could have led to a 30 to 35-year jail term for the 26-year old computer wunderkind.
The affair has put the Obama Justice Department, the Attorney-General Eric Holder and the US Attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz under a harsh light, not least because the remorseless pursuit of Swartz contrasts sharply with the DoJ’s failure to pursue the banks, hedge fund managers and corporate criminals who were responsible for the 2008 financial crisis.
The Boston.com article, which is co-authored by Kade Crockford, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project, supports recent calls for an inquiry into the way Carmen Ortiz’ office handled the Aaron Swartz case.
Followers of this site will be aware that Carmen Ortiz has co-operated with elements in the PSNI in their efforts to confiscate IRA interviews archived at Boston College, a move that could have catastrophic consequences for the peace process.
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe has reported that Carmen Ortiz’ name has been raised by Massachusetts outgoing governor Deval Patrick, as a possible candidate for the 2014 gubernatorial race. He raised that possibility, the Globe reported, in a private meeting with local politicians.
In a separate development, the online White House petition seeking the removal of Carmen Ortiz as US Attorney for Massachusetts passed the 25,000 signature threshold overnight. This means that the Obama White House is now obliged to give a response.
Here is the Boston.com article: