Anonymous attacks MIT in response to programmer's suicide
The hacker organization called the prosecution of Aaron Swartz 'a grotesque miscarriage of justice.'
Mon, Jan 14 2013 at 11:40 AM
Aaron Swartz, seen here in 2009, faced up to 35 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines due to allegations that he had broken into MIT's network to download more than 4 million articles from an academic database. (Photo: ragesoss/Flickr)
Anonymous hacktivists angry over the prosecution and suicide of a prominent computer programmer and free-speech activist attacked the websites of the Department of Justice and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Jan. 13.
Aaron Swartz, 26, hanged himself on Jan. 11 in his Brooklyn apartment. In April, Swartz would have begun trial in Boston over allegations that he had broken into MIT's network to download more than 4 million articles from JSTOR, an online repository of archived scientific and academic journals.
"Whether or not the government contributed to his suicide, the government's prosecution of Swartz was a grotesque miscarriage of justice, a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for," said an Anonymous statement posted on the MIT website yesterday and reproduced elsewhere.
JSTOR subscriptions can cost academic institutions tens of thousands of dollars per year. Swartz, who was 14 when he helped to develop the protocols for RSS readers, and later helped develop Reddit, had long argued that information in the public domain ought to be freely available.
JSTOR declined to press charges against Swartz, but the U.S. Department of Justice, with MIT's partial cooperation, indicted Swartz in July 2011 on four counts of wire fraud and computer hacking.
According to the New York Times' estimate, Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines.
"Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy," a statement by Swartz's family said on Jan. 12. "It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death."
As of 9:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 14, the MIT website was back up, as was the main Department of Justice website at www.justice.gov. An alternate Department of Justice site, www.doj.gov, was unreachable.
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This story was originally written for TechNewsDaily and was republished with permission here. Copyright 2013 TechNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company.
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