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Government The Courts

Aaron Swartz Prosecution Team Claims Online Harassment 429

Posted by timothy
from the dogma-meets-karma dept.
twoheadedboy writes "Members of the legal team responsible for prosecution of Aaron Swartz have claimed they received threatening letters and emails, and some had their social network accounts hacked, following the suicide of the Internet freedom activist. Following Swartz's death, his family and friends widely lambasted the prosecution team, who were accused of being heavy-handed in their pursuit of the 26-year-old. He was facing trial for alleged copyright infringement, accused of downloading excessive amounts of material from the academic article resource JSTOR. U.S. attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz, who headed up the prosecution, and another lead prosecutor, Stephen Heymann, have reportedly become the target of 'harassing and threatening messages,' and their personal information, including home address, personal telephone number, and the names of family members and friends, was posted online. Heymann also received a postcard with a picture of his father's head in a guillotine."
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Aaron Swartz Prosecution Team Claims Online Harassment

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  • Re:And yet.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by SirGeek (120712) <sirgeek-slashdot.mrsucko@org> on Thursday April 04, 2013 @09:45AM (#43356821) Homepage

    True (to some extent), but they could have just said "Plead Guilty to this misdemeanor and pay 1,000 in fines."

    Instead they chose to prosecute him for EVERYTHING they could (with potentially 30+ years in prison). That, they didn't have to do.

    They wanted to make an example of him. PERIOD.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 04, 2013 @09:50AM (#43356885)

    they recommended this if he accepted a plea bargain declaring himself gulty of several felonies.

    Afterwards he would be a convicted felon with limited rights.

    And the judge would not be bound by the six month recommendation

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:06AM (#43357025)

    Reading the article helps. He was arrested for "downloading excessive material". In other words, he had a legal JSTOR account, he wasn't accessing it illegally, he just downloaded more material than they wanted him to. Really? That's a crime now?

    Where were you when we went over this in all its gory detail? Yes, this is Slashdot and everything The Man does is evil, so I get the whole simplification thing. But the real situation was actually a bit complicated. He basically tried to download every article they had, which went beyond the terms of use of the service. His downloads impacted other users of the service at the time by slowing them down because - wait for it - he was trying to download everything and chewing up resources to do it. His plan was to make all these articles available for free when access to them required a paid service. He also hid the computer doing the work in a closet and took actions to hide his face from security cameras when going to the closet to check on his equipment. From a legal standpoint, this can be interpreted to mean he knew his actions were wrong. There's a lot wrong with how the prosecutors handled this, but he was hardly some innocent school boy who got bullied for no reason.

  • by hawks5999 (588198) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:10AM (#43357047)
    It involves a noose.
  • Re:And yet.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jythie (914043) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:15AM (#43357091)
    Going even further, they had the discretion to say 'effected parties do not with to prosecute, the case will be dropped'. They were not under a legal obligation to continue prosecution in the first place.
  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:28AM (#43357211)

    In their minds, they were just "doing their jobs" They are clearly unrepentant. Does that justify taking this any further? Of course not.

    Vigilante expressions like this never promote good results.

    As I recall, showing remorse can get you a lighter punishment. Maybe they should do that. Or they could agree to quit their jobs in exchange for less harassment, kind of a bargain, if you will.

    So vigilante actions might not work. Writing your elected officials doesn't either unless you can afford to include a big campaign contribution. So if both approaches don't improve the situation, why not go with the one that's more gratifying?

    Maybe it will result in even harsher laws. The worse, the better, in terms of getting the general public to finally be fed up.

    Oh, who am I kidding? I just enjoy seeing them suffer. There. I said it.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:04AM (#43357605)

    What civil disobedience? What the hell was the crime?

    He downloaded a lot of documents. Documents that were public and not copyrighted in the first place. Public court documents that anyone could download any time from anywhere. Hell, I could have, and I'm not even in the US. He (allegedly) had the intent to spread them using P2P software. Again, where's the crime? Distributing non-copyrighted documents is afaik (ok, IANAL) not a crime either.

    The documents were stored on a server that charged you a few cents per page you wanted to see. That's ok, someone who makes something available can ask to be compensated for this service, for his expenses and his running costs, but again, this someone has no right to the documents not being republished because the documents were not "his", they were public.

    Swartz' crime, it seems, was to step on someone's toes who has found a neat way to make money with government documents, and that someone had a few "friends" where it matters. That's the crime. There wasn't even any "civil disobedience" in the whole deal. What did he do? He saw public information being "sold", he knew the information doesn't belong to the person selling them, he most likely assumed (as would I, to be honest) that the service only charges this to keep the operation running, so he thought he'd do his country a service actually by making the (public, government!) information information available for free and take the burden of keeping it available off their shoulders. It sure as hell looked like a service the government (or a subsidiary) provides to its citizens and such things are usually not done with the intent for profit, quite the opposite, they tend to cost more than they produce in revenue.

    Quite seriously, I fail to see the crime, or even the criminal intent, here.

  • Reading the article helps. He was arrested for "downloading excessive material". In other words, he had a legal JSTOR account, he wasn't accessing it illegally, he just downloaded more material than they wanted him to. Really? That's a crime now?

    Where were you when we went over this in all its gory detail? Yes, this is Slashdot and everything The Man does is evil, so I get the whole simplification thing. But the real situation was actually a bit complicated. He basically tried to download every article they had, which went beyond the terms of use of the service.

    Fuck the terms of use. They're not LAW. If a law says they are, well, the terms of use of the license for the copyright on this post say that you have no right to read it in full. You must not read more than half of it. Even if it includes your words, you have no right to read below this line the first time. Or read above this line the second time.
    ___________________________

    His downloads impacted other users of the service at the time by slowing them down because - wait for it - he was trying to download everything and chewing up resources to do it.

    So what? It's text. Text downloads fast. It's not like he coordinated a DDOS on JSTOR or anything.

    His plan was to make all these articles available for free when access to them required a paid service.

    The documents he planned to publish were public domain. Where were YOU when we discussed this at length?

    He also hid the computer doing the work in a closet and took actions to hide his face from security cameras when going to the closet to check on his equipment. From a legal standpoint, this can be interpreted to mean he knew his actions were wrong.

    LAWS DON'T MATTER. Reality matters. Victimless non-crimes have no reason to be prosecuted. This is self-evident.

    There's a lot wrong with how the prosecutors handled this, but he was hardly some innocent school boy who got bullied for no reason.

    Yes he was. "Lose half your citizenship and go to jail half a year, OR lose half your lifespan, your choice" is not bullying how?

    Moreover, it's KNOWN and DOCUMENTED that he got prosecuted under any retarded law, for the political reason of to just shut him up as an activist.

  • Re:Good (Score:2, Informative)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:55AM (#43358235)

    If he didn't cop a plea for the six months, he faced a fairly significant fraction of 35 years.

    Stop lying. Maximum sentences are based on federal sentencing guidelines, and those are based on damages. He did not "face a fairly significant fraction of 35 years"; he didn't face much more than he would have received under the plea bargain.

    What he did really didn't justify a prison sentence at all.

    Physically breaking into a private computer network is a pretty serious offense, and Congress believes it justifies a prison sentence.

  • by Frobnicator (565869) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @12:18PM (#43358475) Journal

    THAT'S NOT HER JOB. It's the OPPOSITE of her job.

    You must be new to the modern legal system.

    97% of all federal court cases end with a plea bargain. Last year the SCOTUS ruled on Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper, those bound it up even tighter. Go look them up.

    Justice Scalia wrote on them: "the Court today opens a whole new field of constitutionalized criminal procedure: plea-bargaining law. The ordinary criminal process has become too long, too expensive, and unpredictable, in no small part as a consequence of an intricate federal Code of Criminal Procedure imposed on the States by this Court in pursuit of perfect justice. ... The Court now moves to bring perfection to the alternative in which prosecutors and defendants have sought relief. Today’s opinions deal with only two aspects of counsel’s plea-bargaining inadequacy, and leave other aspects (who knows what they might be?) to be worked out in further constitutional litigation that will burden the criminal process. And it would be foolish to think that “constitutional” rules governing counsel’s behavior will not be followed by rules governing the prosecution’s behavior in the plea bargaining process that the Court today announces “‘is the criminal justice system,’” Is it constitutional, for example, for the prosecution to with draw a plea offer that has already been accepted? Or to withdraw an offer before the defense has had adequate time to consider and accept it? Or to make no plea offer at all, even though its case is weak—thereby excluding the defendant from “the criminal justice system”?

    He also wrote: The plea-bargaining process is a subject worthy of regulation, since it is the means by which most criminal convictions are obtained. It happens not to be, however, a subject covered by the Sixth Amendment, which is concerned not with the fairness of bargaining but with the fairness of conviction. The Constitution . . . is not an allpurpose tool for judicial construction of a perfect world; and when we ignore its text in order to make it that, we often find ourselves swinging a sledge where a tack hammer is needed.

  • Re:Good (Score:2, Informative)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @04:11PM (#43361743)

    Yes, he was facing a maximum of up to a year under federal sentencing guidelines, in a minimum security prison.

    You're a "fucking idiot" if you think that's "a fairly significant fraction of 35 years".

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