Federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz, who threatened Aaron Swartz with decades in prison.(Credit: U.S. Department of Justice via cnet.com)
Swartz didn't face prison until feds took over case, report says | Politics and Law - CNET News
"State prosecutors who investigated the late Aaron Swartz had planned to let him off with a stern warning, but federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over and chose to make an example of the Internet activist, according to a report in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Middlesex County's district attorney had planned no jail time, "with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally questionable manner," the report
) said. "Tragedy intervened when Ortiz's office took over the case to send 'a message.'" The report is likely to fuel an online campaign against Ortiz, who has been criticized
for threatening the 26-year-old with decades in prison for allegedly downloading a large quantity of academic papers. An online petition
asking President Obama to remove from office Ortiz -- a politically ambitious prosecutor . . . . the sweeping nature of federal computer crime laws
allowed Ortiz and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann
, who wanted a high-profile computer crime conviction, to pursue felony charges. Heymann threatened
the free-culture activist with over 30 years in prison as recently as the week before he killed himself. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat whose district includes the heart of Silicon Valley, has proposed
rewriting those laws. The Boston U.S. Attorney's office was looking for "some juicy looking computer crime cases and Aaron's case, sadly for Aaron, fit the bill," Elliot Peters
, Swartz's attorney at the Keker & Van Nest law firm, told the Huffington Post. Heymann
, Peters says, thought the Swartz case "was going to receive press and he was going to be a tough guy
and read his name
in the newspaper."
will be reading their names alright--although probably not in the context they planned. Apparently, in their arrogance or ignorance, they thought they were above accountability, all-powerful, "untouchable," and could destroy a life without consequences.
And by the way, the Swartz case was not an anomaly in the way this US Attorney office operated--just read the CNET article
for more info.
In the meantime, now we've heard from Anonymous
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