Carmen Ortiz defends her office's prosecution of Aaron Swartz

The U.S. Attorney said the prosecution recognized that there was no evidence against Swartz to warrant severe punishment

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said Wednesday that prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Internet activist Aaron Swartz that warranted severe punishment.

The U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts has been criticized for her handling of the prosecution of Swartz, who committed suicide last Friday.

"The prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain, and they recognized that his conduct -- while a violation of the law -- did not warrant the severe punishments authorized by Congress and called for by the Sentencing Guidelines in appropriate cases," Ortiz said in a statement reported by various media.

Swartz was charged with wire fraud, computer fraud and other crimes for allegedly accessing and downloading over 4 million articles from the JSTOR online database through the network of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ((

He allegedly intended to distribute a significant proportion of JSTOR's archive through file-sharing sites, according to a federal indictment. If convicted, he could have faced up to 35 years in prison and a fine of US$1 million, according to a statement in July last year from the attorney's office.

In discussions with Swartz's counsel about a resolution of the case, Ortiz's office sought an appropriate sentence that matched the alleged conduct, which she described as "a sentence that we would recommend to the judge of six months in a low security setting." His defense counsel would at the same time have been free to recommend a sentence of probation, she added.

"Ultimately, any sentence imposed would have been up to the judge," Ortiz said in the statement. "At no time did this office ever seek -- or ever tell Mr. Swartz's attorneys that it intended to seek -- maximum penalties under the law."

The Department of Justice could not be immediately reached.

Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to Swartz's death, his family and partner said in a statement after 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, the family said. Swartz's death was not simply a personal tragedy, but the product of "a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach."

A petition launched Saturday on the White House's website asks for the removal of Ortiz from office for overreach in the case. "A prosecutor who does not understand proportionality and who regularly uses the threat of unjust and overreaching charges to extort plea bargains from defendants regardless of their guilt is a danger to the life and liberty of anyone who might cross her path," it said. The petition had garnered 39,709 signatures late Wednesday.

Tags no companysecuritylegalinternet

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?