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Aaron Swartz  (Source:
The letter includes questions about Swartz' involvement with ending SOPA

Two members from a congressional committee have sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) wanting answers in regards to the charges against Aaron Swartz.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, wrote a letter to the DOJ asking what exactly pushed the department to prosecute Swartz in such an intense manner.

The letter, written January 28, asked the following seven questions since this is no longer a criminal case:
  1. What factors influenced the decision to prosecute Mr. Swartz for the crimes alleged in the indictment, including the decisions regarding what crimes to charge and the filing of the superseding indictment?
  2. Was Mr. Swartz's opposition to SOPA or his association with any advocacy groups among the factors considered?
  3. What specific plea offers were made to Mr. Swartz, and what factors influenced the decisions by prosecutors regarding plea offers made to Mr. Swartz?
  4. How did the criminal charges, penalties sought, and plea offers in this case compare to those of other cases that have been prosecuted or considered for prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?
  5. Did the federal investigation of Mr. Swartz reveal evidence that he had committed other hacking violations?
  6. What factors influenced the Department's decisions regarding sentencing proposals?
  7. Why was a superseding indictment necessary?
“It appears that prosecutors increased the felony counts by providing specific dates for each action, turning each marked date into its own felony charge, and significantly increasing Mr. Swartz’s maximum criminal exposure to up to 50 years imprisonment and $1 million in fines,” said the letter.

Swartz, an internet activist and co-creator of Reddit and the RSS standard, was in hot water after he accessed JSTOR database with a personal laptop in 2011. Using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) data network, Swartz downloaded over 4 million academic journals and planned to make them available to the public for free.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz decided to slam Swartz with 13 felony charges that could have sent him to jail for up to 50 years. He also would have had a $1 million fine for his actions.

However, Swartz was offered a couple of different plea deals, such as a 7-8 month prison sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to all 13 felony counts, and a six-month prison sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. Swartz turned down all of the plea deals, since he didn't want any felony charges on his record and didn't want to spend any time in prison.

With the weight of the government on his shoulders, Swartz committed suicide on January 11, 2013.

Source: The Next Web

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Slam Dunking a Duck
By drlumen on 1/29/2013 5:56:59 PM , Rating: 5
I find it absolutely disgusting that the DOJ is so upset by the alledged actions of one person for copyright infringement. Yet, they have not even filed an indictment against any Wall Street executives for the BILLIONS lost to fraud and scandal in the mortgage and derivative bubble.

It appears the DOJ had rather pile on and try to slam dunk something they consider to be an easy case than to have to do any actual work building cases against thousands of much guiltier people.

RE: Slam Dunking a Duck
By dgingerich on 1/29/2013 6:57:29 PM , Rating: 2
That's just typical, lazy, stupid behavior of most government employees.

Ever tried to get a passport? The people who make them are tasked with getting one done per day, same as it was in the 70s, and with all the technology advantages these days it now takes about an hour to an hour and a half to actually get one done. Yet, the management in that office never adjusted the workload requirements accordingly. Back in the 70s, it made sense because it actually took six to eight hours to do all the paperwork. That just isn't the case anymore. Now we have a six to eight month waiting list to get one.

It's much the same in other offices. Where work in done out of the sight of the public, expect them to slack off.

I bet the PTO has a bunch of people rubber stamping Apple patents without any actual work, yet somehow only getting one done per week or something.

RE: Slam Dunking a Duck
By semiconshawn on 1/30/2013 5:24:26 AM , Rating: 2
My passport took 36 hours to get and my wife's took 48 hours. Some small town called Houston

RE: Slam Dunking a Duck
By MZperX on 1/30/2013 12:07:58 PM , Rating: 2
Give this man a 6.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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