Feeds

Swartz prosecutor: We only pushed for 'six months' in the cooler

'There is little I can say to abate the anger', says Ortiz

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

US attorney Carmen Ortiz, who led the fraud case against Aaron Swartz until his suicide last week, has defended her prosecution of the internet prodigy.

Swartz, 26, took his life on Friday at his home in New York in the midst of a lengthy court battle that could have put him behind bars for decades. He was charged with computer fraud after copying 4.8 million scientific articles from the nonprofit journal archive JSTOR to allegedly redistribute online.

According to his defence lawyers, the Reddit co-founder killed himself shortly after learning that the prosecution would not consider a plea bargain that would rule out a jail sentence.

Within days of his death, an online petition was created urging President Obama to fire Ortiz after Swartz's family said their son's suicide was "the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach". The web appeal, hosted by the White House website, has collected at least 40,000 signatures.

Today, Ortiz, the US attorney for the district of Massachusetts, said her "office's conduct was appropriate in bringing and handling this case". She claimed that her team had not pushed for an unduly severe punishment.

"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," she said in a statement.

"The prosecutors recognised that there was no evidence against Mr Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain, and they recognised that his conduct – while a violation of the law – did not warrant the severe punishments authorised by Congress and called for by the Sentencing Guidelines in appropriate cases.

"That is why in the discussions with his counsel about a resolution of the case this 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 defence counsel would have been free to recommend a sentence of probation. Ultimately, any sentence imposed would have been up to the judge."

Swartz faced 13 felony charges including counts of wire fraud, computer fraud and recklessly damaging a protected computer, which could cumulatively carry a sentence of more than 30 years.

The federal attorney's statement, the first time she's been drawn to comment on Swartz's death, also offered her sympathies to his family and friends.

"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," she said. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.