• Ortiz comments on death of Internet activist


    BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) - U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz is speaking about the death of an Internet activist who has been eulogized as a martyred hero since his suicide in his New York apartment last week.

    In a statement released on Wednesday night, Ortiz extends her heartfelt sympathy to the family of Aaron Swartz.

    "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," says Ortiz.

    Ortiz continues by saying that her office's conduct was "appropriate in bringing and handling" Swartz's case.

    The release reads in-part:

    "The career prosecutors handling this matter took on the difficult task of enforcing a law they had taken an oath to uphold, and did so reasonably. The prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain, and they recognized that his conduct - while a violation of the law - did not warrant the severe punishments authorized 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. "

    Ortiz goes on to say that her office never intended to seek maximum penalties against Swartz and that their mission "includes protecting the use of computers and the Internet by enforcing the law as fairly and responsibly as possible."

    Those closest to the hacker prodigy describe Swartz as a shy young man who felt government and big business had hijacked the web.

    In the end, Swartz didn't understand how hard the government would come down on him.

    Swartz was charged with 13 felonies in 2011 after he was accused of using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's computer network to illegally download nearly 5 million academic articles.

    Swartz's death touched off a backlash against prosecutors, including a petition calling on President Barack Obama to fire Ortiz, a flood of copyrighted academic papers put online for anyone to see and furious rants on Twitter.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report

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