Report: Aaron Swartz Didn’t Face Prison Until Feds Took Over Case

Declan McCullagh, writing for CNet:

State prosecutors who investigated the late Aaron Swartz had planned to let him off with a stern warning, but federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over and chose to make an example of the Internet activist, according to a report in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

Middlesex County’s district attorney had planned no jail time, “with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally questionable manner,” the report (alternate link) said. “Tragedy intervened when Ortiz’s office took over the case to send ‘a message.’”

We all know Ortiz isn’t the only prosecutor to act like this. But a prosecutor “sending a message” is an outrage. It is a plain violation of the accused’s rights for their punishment to be increased because of people unrelated to their case. The more I learn about this case, the more heartbroken and furious I get.

Friday, 25 January 2013

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