I have been taken aback about the suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz since I first read about it. Anyone who bothers to read the details comes to realize that the US prosecutors office was needlessly pushing for a conviction of Aaron. Their motivations were likely political, as a backlash for PACER, Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, and his involvement in stopping SOPA. The latest article to catch my attention is a long and detailed accounting of the investigation by Quinn Norton in The Atlantic, who was dating Aaron at the time of his arrest and a target of the aggressive prosecutors. I think the most telling thing is her accounting of how angry prosecutor Steve Heymann and his assistants got, especially during her grand jury testimony.
Quinn’s article really gives you the sense of the helplessness and isolation one would be under when the full might of the US judicial and intelligence system is bearing down on you. It sounds like a work of fiction that should be on TV or a movie but it’s real life. It makes me both angry and sad that we would needlessly put others though this type of thing.
Then hot on the heals of Quinn’s article is news that US Attorney General Eric Holders feels Aaron’s case was a “a good use of prosecutorial discretion.” Most people I know think this the case was an abuse of prosecutorial discretion and a huge overreach by the US government.