A petition to unseat Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, has received
the 25,000 signatures needed to elicit a White House response. Last Friday, Aaron Swartz who had been indicted for computer hacking, was found dead
of an apparent suicide, by hanging.
The software developer, who sold Infogami
in 2006, was only 26-years-old.
In 2008 Swartz landed in hot water when he accessed over 19 million documents from PACER, a federal court database, using a Perl computer script. PACER usually charges to view and download documents, unless you are an attorney or court official. The documents were uploaded using a cloud computing service, and donated to public domain activist, Carl Malamud.
Swartz's actions were promptly investigated by the F.B.I., an investigation Swartz learned about from a freedom of information act request.
Between 2010 and 2011, Aaron Swartz accessed 4 million academic articles from JSTOR, downloading the documents from a library at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On July 19 2011, Swartz was indicted by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, for wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer. In the indictment Aaron Swartz was accused of, surreptitiously attaching a laptop to MIT's computer network, downloading a voluminous amount of articles from JSTOR, and making the papers available on P2P file-sharing sites.
According to Wired, Aaron Swartz was offered a deal
in the case to do six months in jail, however he purportedly did not accept, and ultimately hung himself.
Wired is owned by Condé Nast Publications
, to whom Aaron Swartz sold Reddit. Swartz himself also worked at Wired magazine for a short time.
The petition contends that Ortiz was overly aggressive in prosecuting Swartz. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz reportedly refused to comment on the petition.
Aaron Swartz was also a vocal critic of SOPA as well as the Patriot Act.
Had he been convicted, Swartz faced over 50 years in prison. Recently, court papers brought to light the fact that the United States Secret Service, took over the case
two days before Swartz was arrested in 2011.
The U.S. District Court in Massachusetts dismissed the charges against Swartz, following his death.
A funeral service was held today in Highland Park, for Aaaron Swartz at the Central Avenue Synagogue.