US Attorney Defends Prosecution of Aaron Swartz

Illustration for article titled US Attorney Defends Prosecution of Aaron Swartz

While activists rally in an attempt to rewrite the law, the US Attorney's office in Massachusetts has issued a public statement which defends the prosecution of Aaron Swartz.

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Written by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, the statement reads:

I know that there is little I can say to abate the anger felt by those who believe that this office's prosecution of Mr. Swartz was unwarranted and somehow led to the tragic result of him taking his own life.

I must, however, make clear that this office's conduct was appropriate in bringing and handling this case. The career prosecutors handling this matter took on the difficult task of enforcing a law they had taken an oath to uphold, and did so reasonably...

[T]his office sought an appropriate sentence that matched the alleged conduct – a sentence that we would recommend to the judge of six months in a low security setting. While at the same time, his defense counsel would have been free to recommend a sentence of probation. Ultimately, any sentence imposed would have been up to the judge. 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.

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Amid criticism of existing laws, the statement serves as a reminder that, while 35 years in Federal prison and fines of $1 million loomed on the horizon for Swartz, the reality could have been very different. [US Attorney via All Things D]

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DISCUSSION

It's a sad story, but he took his own life. It was a decision he took. The same way he decided to break the law. Was it terribly awful what he did? No. But he broke the law and that has to have consequences. Nobody is above the law, even with noble intensions. From the baker that steels a left over bread at work to the rapists in India crime needs to be handled independently from intention, age, gender and race. The circumstances will never be known, but nobody except him can be kept responsible for this terrible outcome. RIP