• MIT report suggests school remained 'neutral' in Swartz case


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) -- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology says a new report, which was conducted at the request of the institute's president, found the school committed no wrongdoing in their actions related to the death of Internet hacktivist Aaron Swartz.

    In a message posted on MIT's website Tuesday, the school notes that the report raises concerns about policies and procedures. The report also questions whether MIT should have been more actively involved in the matter.

    MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a letter announcing the report's completion that the report dispels "widely circulated myths."

    "For example, it makes clear that MIT did not 'target' Aaron Swartz, we did not seek federal prosecution, punishment or jail time, and we did not oppose a plea bargain. The report's introduction summarizes some of its most significant findings, but I urge everyone in the MIT community to read the report in its entirety," wrote Reif.

    The school claims they maintained a "position of neutrality" in the years between Swartz's arrest in 2011 to his suicide in 2013. They say the report was compiled after speaking to 50 people, including investigators, MIT students and staff, and Swartz's family. The authors also reportedly poured over 10,000 pages of documents related to the case.

    Swartz's partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, slammed MIT's handling of the case shortly after the report was released.

    "This report claims that MIT was 'neutral' - but MIT's lawyers gave prosecutors total access to witnesses and evidence, while refusing access to Aaron's lawyers to the exact same witnesses and evidence. That's not neutral," said Stinebrickner-Kauffman in a statement. "The fact is that all MIT had to do was say publicly, 'We don't want this prosecution to go forward' - and Steve Heymann and Carmen Ortiz would have had no case."

    Strinebrickner-Kauffman goes on to say Swartz "would be alive today" if MIT reacted to the case like JSTOR, who she says came out "immediately and publicly" against the prosecution.

    Swartz was arrested in 2011 amid allegations that he illegally downloaded millions of academic journal papers from the MIT computer network.

    He faced 13 felony counts that carried up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines. Prosecutors previously said Swartz was offered a deal in which he would have spent just four to six months in prison.

    The case against the 26-year-old self-styled Internet freedom activist has thrown a sharp light on the conflict between those who believe information should be freely available online and authorities trying to enforce the law in a rapidly changing digital environment.

    While backers portray Swartz as an ardent supporter of online freedom, prosecutors say his motivations didn't excuse the criminal acts he was alleged to have committed.

    To read the MIT report, click here.

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