AP: Co-founder of major website commits suicide — Family blames MIT, gov’t for death — Was facing potentially over 30 years in prison for ‘stealing’ academic papers (VIDEO)

Published: January 13th, 2013 at 2:54 pm ET


Watch CBSNews video here

AP, 1:24p ET:

The family of a Reddit co-founder who committed suicide weeks before he was to go on trial on federal charges that he stole millions of scholarly articles is blaming prosecutors for his death.

Aaron Swartz hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment Friday night, his family and authorities said. […]

In 2011, he was charged with stealing millions of scientific journals from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an attempt to make them freely available. […]

“Web Activistโ€™s Family Blames MIT, Prosecutors in His Death” -Bloomberg: “Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.”

Watch a more in-depth interview about Swartz’s death here

Published: January 13th, 2013 at 2:54 pm ET


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34 comments to AP: Co-founder of major website commits suicide — Family blames MIT, gov’t for death — Was facing potentially over 30 years in prison for ‘stealing’ academic papers (VIDEO)

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz commits suicide in midst of controversial trial


    The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz

    The internet freedom activist committed suicide on Friday at age 26, but his life was driven by courage and passion


    I'm deeply moved.


    interesting read…

    Visionary internet activist Aaron Swartz found dead; was this brilliant internet revolutionary 'taken out?'


    • Holland Holland

      'taken out?'

      I think so. With all these mysterious deaths going on it's a heroic deed these days to question things.


    Seem like a pattern to you? Does anyone remember Ilya Zhitomirskiy, the Founder of Diaspora?

    "Ilya Zhitomirskiy died Saturday after San Francisco police were summoned for a reported suicide, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

    Mr Zhitomirskiy was one of the founders Diaspora*, a new social networking service meant to give users more control of their information online, and sought to lure people away from bigger sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter."


    "There must be someway out of here, ssid the Joker to theif, there's just so much confusion…I can't get no relief!" Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix


      just in case you missed this one FREEDOMROX…


      And because I value others out here, I don't use "STASI-LITE". From day one, I knew what 'they' were up doing…


        Ummm, quick question? Is Stasi-Lite…TOR? Thanks for the article. Interesting times.


          they're all honey pots. Nothing exists that isn't supposed too. If it didn't, they'd create it. You can try for alternatives, but should they threaten their control, those paths are either co-opted or outright quashed. There 'people' are effing brilliant! Their was one thing they hadn't anticipated on the part the people…courage. They've moved to drown out these courageous intellects with 'noise'. Go to beforeitsnews.com if you want to see an example of how effective noise can be. That site is an excellent example of you undermine a great idea (in this case, an unmoderated news releases). There are now inumerable, more 'polished', examples of how 'alternative' sites are being used to sidetrack the 'uninitiated'. I could develop why they're failing in these countermeasures, but (as old-school guys used to say) "that would be telling"…

        • DUDe DisasterInterpretationDissorder

          Hi AfterShock and Freedom

          I can't figure out what you guy's are talking about specifically , but the mention of T;;O;;R Makes me wonder , is there anything i schould understand before posting links like this with good intentions , thanks !


          • PavewayIII PavewayIII

            FWIW, DID:

            Assume everything you do on the internet is tracked all the time, zero exception. Nobody is going to outsmart them.

            TOR? Useless, maybe even a red flag for the gov. If you're using TOR, then you must be a terrorist or are stealing revenue that belongs to some media company. Threaten a publisher's profits too much, and you'll end up like Aaron.

            Aaron picked a fight with big-time academic extortionist Reed Elsevier for copyrighting public-funded research a long time ago. The MA Attorney General and the MIT people were simply doing whatever Reed Elsevier's paid-off stooges get paid to do: protect Elsevier's profits.

            Aaron wasn't the first body for publishers, and not the last. The RIAA and MPA have also put their share of people in the ground after destroying them financially and pushing for imprisonment.

            The president signed a bill a while back permitting the government to seize all electronic media in your home – without a warrant or an explanation – for an indefinite length of time. That includes cell phones, DVRs, iPods – anything. If they claim it has something to do with an ongoing Homeland Stazi investigation, then they don't have to (and will never) tell you anything.

            Assume you have absolutely NO privacy from either government, big media or their internet provider monopolies and you'll never go wrong. Assume no protection from the courts – they repeatedly back big media. Your rights don't count.

            • FREEDOMROX

              Well stated, PWIII. The only privacy you have left is in the grave, maybe not even then. That's why I ma a fan of cremation. (Even then, probably wind up in someone's ashtray ๐Ÿ™‚

            • DUDe DisasterInterpretationDissorder

              Thanks PavewayIII for the lenghty reply , agree to certain point on all levels , but i can imaging there should stil be a market fore some
              lighthandy saltwater pr oov flashdrive or something. In a better world i mean , with pitbull-reporters and wisthleblowers and bloggers and
              pulitzer's and stuff in it to start with , when this is where we eventually heading ..I..

              Hi FREED , recently there was this horrorflick about the army doing tests on catching dying human's escaping souls in a cage with some
              electrical/magnetical/emp..etc voodoo , to do some further test on it , without consent , soul becomes a bit unhappy , neurotic and aggresive ,
              untill the poor creature became pure evil more exciting tests etc. But i forgot the name of the "basedontruesomethingsecret horror" .

              It sounded somewhat familiar to me about our current situation so yeah. Maybe they wanne milk our future agony too , or tax it anyway…
              For that price category you can only scream this loud for help sir .

              • DUDe DisasterInterpretationDissorder

                If Enenews had enough bandwide and a "leech aka save entire site" button or something , we all could have a copy of ene to fall back to when something goes wrong , on an usb stick. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • johnnyo

      i agree it is suspicious, and just for the record, Bob Dylan wrote and first recorded "All Along the Watchtower" but Jimi did give it one hellacious reworking ๐Ÿ™‚

  • jec jec

    This is so tragic. Sincerely hope the prosecutor's and the courts realize when you have a brilliant young mind, sometimes it can break from what they see is a "justified" example case. Frankly, I am glad I dont have his death on my conscience, which those other people will have. Excuses..he broke the law..yes he did..in an internet environment..the company he got the materials from, in one article,material was returned to them and they worked out the details with each other. But the data copyright or
    "hacking" case was to be an example I think. It sure is. Hes dead. Of course, 30 yrs in jail for a bright young scientist/genius..well that is a death sentence as well. You have to wonder if he was hounded to death..or felt he was.

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      You're assuming the Elsevier mafia, MIT stooges or the Attorney Genral of Mass. have a conscience. They don't care and never will. Little people are not their boss – they don't matter.

  • pcjensen

    Tragic and unnecessary

    Thank You, JSTOR http://about.jstor.org/statement-swartz

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      Knowledge pimping has to keep up with the times. Academic publishers don't like to get all down and dirty on the street. They want to collect money from the easy, big clients: university libraries, corporations, etc. They saw what music publishers did with RIAA/MPAA and created one for themselves: ITHAKA


      ITHAKA acts as a consolidated pimp for the publishers. Kind of a Super Pimp.

      ITHAKA doesn't have the time for enforcement. It's far easier to lobby a few politicians and effectively sub-contract out those troublesome but necessary pimp tasks. The leg-breaking and beatings are actually provided by the taxpayer-funded courts.

      Aaron was not charged with copyright infringement by ITHAKA/JSTOR. They bowed out as soon as he returned the file copies he made.

      MIT and Mass. charge him with state crimes of breaking and entering, and unauthorized access to a computer system. On top of that, federal prosecutors charged him with wire fraud and unlawfully obtaining information from a secure computer.

      MIT had the state charges dropped last year after all the bad press they generated, but remained silent about the federal charges. No way were publishers like Elsevier going to back off. Aaron knew this – he was going to get time.

  • ftlt

    I heard this on NPR this morning…. While, I feel for the young person…. What about the millions of Americans langishing behind bars for what amounts to stealing a loaf of bread – while the crooks of Wall Street, Our Foreign Wars for Profit and the Border less Bankers go about their lives uncharged after damaging 10s of millions of Americans lives counting their billions in loot… Not to mention other 10s of millions around the world they have made to suffer for their greed and criminal behavior……

    This has thread has the stink of someone being special = more special than the rest… A yuppie story… Why is this story important to this site and those others 10s of millions stories are not???

    Sorry, if this offends, well meaning folks on this site… But, the story angered me this morning upon hearing it put forth as I described above and I was taken aback that it made this site…


      your thoughts are valuable ftlt. I can't disagree with the essence of what you're pointing out; the rampant injustices within law enforcement. Regardless whether he was murdered or took an early leave, I'm saddened when an intelligent being is destroyed. Given the nature of this site, what he was doing on the net justifies mention…

      That said, I personally welcome your courage in questioning the valuing on one over others…

  • gottagetoffthegrid

    Look what they did to bradley manning.

    The state *will* make an example of you, and you'd better be prepared if you choose to step out of line

    This is why the "idle no more" movement is so powerful. The first nations are prepared to take it to the wall if need be and the cops/Harper know this. Remember Oka.

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Wisdom is knowing the reason and the cause that one dies for.

    Not one of you have mentioned the cause and/or action that this young man was trying to bring to the world at large and we here on enenews should understand the magnitude of what he was trying to accomplish. He understood the chains that enslaved his body, his mind and finally his soul.

    We battle for this "freedom of knowledge" everyday and many doors are constantly slammed in our faces as we await for a sliver and/or crack of light to appear in our darkness from the other side.

    Justice is only a created human perception often found inside fairy tales.

    We should all want to seek the truth and want to promote the free flow of human knowledge.

    All this knowledge collected belongs to each of us and we are called mankind.


      I can't speak to another individual's motivation, but do appreciate your thoughts…

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      "…He understood the chains that enslaved his body, his mind and finally his soul…"

      I disagree, obewanspeaks. His efforts over the last decade and especially the last few years were directed at the chains that shackled the free flow of information.

      If anything, he was too optimistic that the U.S. had not ALREADY devolved to the point of political barbarianism. He honestly believed that he could change 'the system' by public awareness and appealing to reason.

      That's why he published so many articles on the internet. That's why he was so active in opposing SOPA/PIPA and their international flavor: ACTA. That's why he was working against CISPA. And that's exactly why the psychopathic big-shots wanted him taken out. He kept interfering with their plans to control the internet.

      In the first seventy seconds of this video, Aaron explains why he became interested in those efforts:


      This rather lukewarm article provides a lot of background:


      including his own FBI file he obtained through the FOIA:


      That investigation was earned from his efforts to let U.S. citizen-peons access court filings. They're public information, but no free for peons. It will cost you a small fortune to peek at all. PACER is the pimp you want to talk to.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Ohh..touchy subject… hacking.

    Hacking..it's not like MIT isn't about hacking.

    Behold..the robotic worm.


  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Pave..how can you disagree?

    It was his past actions based on newly created manmade laws that encouraged him to do what he did originally. Free flow of information was his overall goal and that goal was removed rather quickly from the equation by the exact same laws created to remove such freedoms from his mind and thus his life is now removed from the master control equation we as a collective created.

    Do you really think your thoughts are your own thoughts? Not hardly my friend.

    Knowledge = Power = Money = Greed = Corruption

    This is as ancient a story as was ever told and why they burned libraries down in the past.

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Yes, the battle for that sliver and/or crack of light continues on… with one less soul.