Reddit Co-Founder's Father Blames Government For His Son's Death

Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit and executive director of the website Demand Progress died on Friday by what police are saying was suicide by hanging. He was 26. Now his family is blaming his death on the government.

Swartz was in the midst of a controversial trial and was facing a possible sentence of decades in jail along with a $1 million fine for allegedly stealing journal articles with the intent to post them online. According to RT,

He faced 13 felony charges, including breaching site terms and intending to share downloaded files through peer-to-peer networks, computer fraud, wire fraud, obtaining information from a protected computer, and criminal forfeiture. He was also accused of evading MIT’s attempts to kick his laptop off the network while downloading millions of documents from JSTOR.

However, the victim of the criminal complaint refused to press charges against him and even spoke to the United States Attorney's Office to stop prosecution, claiming that they had reclaimed the works Swartz had attempted to download.

“We stopped this downloading activity, and the individual responsible, Mr. Swartz, was identified. We secured from Mr. Swartz the content that was taken, and received confirmation that the content was not and would not be used, copied, transferred, or distributed,” the company said in its statement on the prosecution.

Demand Progress Executive Director David Segar said in a statement “This makes no sense. It’s like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library."

“It’s even more strange because the alleged victim has settled any claims against Aaron, explained they’ve suffered no loss or damage, and asked the government not to prosecute,” Segal said.

During the funeral, Robert Swartz said that his son was "hounded by the government, and MIT refused him."

"He was killed by the government, and MIT betrayed all of its basic principles," he continued.

But Swartz's family looked to put the blame some place and believe that the government's continued pressure on Swartz attributed to his death. In a statement released Sunday, the family said,

"Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death."

The charges against Swartz stemmed from allegedly breaching JSTOR's Terms of Service:

“JSTOR authorizes users to download a limited number of journal articles at a time,” the latest indictment said. “Before being given access to JSTOR’s digital archive, each user must agree and acknowledge that they cannot download or export content from JSTOR’s computer servers with automated programs such as web robots, spiders, and scrapers.”

RT concluded,

"The case would have tested the reach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was created to reduce the cracking of computer systems and federal domains-related offenses. The law, which was passed in 1984, enhances the government’s ability to prosecute hackers who accessed computers to steal information or disrupt computer functionality."

But according to plaintiff attorney Max Kennerly, Swartz may not have violated the law at all.

“It is by no means clear that Swartz has actually violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Recently, the Fourth Circuit joined the Ninth Circuit in alleging that violating the terms of service does not constitute a crime under the CFAA. In contrast, the Fifth, Seventh and Eleventh Circuits have held that it can be a crime. Swartz' case is in the First Circuit. This is the classic sort of Circuit Split that prompts Supreme Court review,” Kennerly said on his blog.

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  • madmemere

    Hope the family was able to hire an "expert forensic specialist" who would know "what else" to look for! Bruising from force, was a tox screen done, etc.?

  • Disgusted!

    Meanwhile the WH gets away with leaks that damage our security!

  • J J

    Hackers are cowardly criminals who sit in a room behind closed doors stealing data and / or personal identity information. They generally use this information for personal gain and at the sometimes lifetime expense of the people they have stolen from. Hackers are cowardly criminals.

  • GDC

    ALL hackers should be EXECUTED!!!

    • kds


  • Raymond

    Mr. Obama:
    I want you to know that I will not obey any order from you
    or those who surround you that violates the United States Constitution. I'm hoping that others will stand beside me
    against this force of darkness. Raymond

    • turfbarn80

      This widow alone on a farm isn't handing over HER guns either!

    • madmemere

      Raymond -I'm too old to run, but I'm good at "standing" and I can still hit what I aim at - -that's called "gun control"!

  • Raymond

    He was murdered by the government.

    • GDC


    • madmemere

      So, you're a "psychiatrist"? Or, what gives you the wherewithal to "judge" someone "mentally sick"?

    • apf2

      Government employees can certainly be overbearing, overreaching, and just wrong headed. The power they wield is all too often never checked--and we all know the cliché that absolute power corrupts's a cliché because it is so true. But to call the government a murderer for this case is to continue giving it too much power. This young man obviously lacked a family or friend based support system to help him deal with this severe crisis. He must also have lacked a deep enough (or any?) faith which would help him to put things in perspective and allow him to understand that suicide is not an appropriate solution. Yes these are things which the progressives in government have fomented--the destruction of family and faith--but given the nature of his leftist leanings (Demand Progress) I have to place most of the blame on his choices.

      To call the the government murderers for its direct and indirect funding and promotion of abortion and infanticide is completely and fully appropriate. To call the government and its agents murderers when the corruption and failed policies lead directly to deaths of innocent people as demonstrated by the Fast & Furious operation is also totally warranted.

      Let us not confuse the two concepts. This young man made a choice to commit suicide (it is irrelevent that he was not of sound mind since no one told him to do it, no one put the proverbial gun in his hand.). The other cases are where adults and children have been killed by no fault of action or decision that they have made.

      We should be up in arms about the promotion of abortion (especially with our tax dollars), the illegal activities of our corrupt politicians and their wrong-headed agendas which directly and indirectly lead to deaths, destruction of families, degradation of faith and religion and in general the promotion of government and its agents to postions of diety.

    • socialisimmustgo

      all good and fine but i am a libertarian leaning conservative and i say the monster government did kill him because of the stress they placed on him which is known as undue duress if you want to get legally technical and i would also say that they are trying to kill all of us by endangering the national security of the nation and our economy !
      i also say we should all file a class action against the government for sabotaging the economy , placing everyone under threat of fabricated terrorism and usurping the executive office and attacking enalienable absolute rights and damaging real estate values and debasing the currency and waging war against the citizens through NDAA and violating all citizens rights in voting rigging and open borders and drug and firearm trafficking ,extortion of wages not defined as income and derelictions of duty and contempt for the constitutional supreme rule of law and placinf people in harms way and attempting to render all american children defenseless against criminals and invasion and.........