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Government The Courts

Aaron Swartz Prosecution Team Claims Online Harassment 429

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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  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @09:35AM (#43356729) Homepage

    Activism is useless when it is aimed at unproductive channels. Instead, they should have signed the petition to remove the DA in question. Or written a letter to the state.
    Petition to remove DA Carmen Ortiz []

  • And yet.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @09:36AM (#43356743) Homepage Journal

    For some reason, I just can't seem to feel bad for these assholes.

  • Trying not to say... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scotts13 ( 1371443 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @09:49AM (#43356861)

    "Sucks to be you"... Aw, shoot, I already did.

    Seriously, though, threats are not the way to accomplish anything here. Rather than online vigilantism, people who have strong feelings about this should be talking to newspapers, senators, congressmen, etc. That way they might actually get something changed, and incidentally make these peoples lives difficult as a happy bonus. Remember, these are the people who (for this purpose) define right and wrong. If you want to go after them, short of full revolution, you have to play by their rules. Otherwise you're just another criminal they can use to justify their tactics.

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:04AM (#43357001)
    Even if it plays into their mythology, it does change the equation somewhat. Even when power is criminal or juvenile, it is still a consequence people with political ambition will increasingly have to factor in when they take various moves. In a way, no response would have been worse since that sends the message that there are no negative consequences or risks involved in such overreach, only gains. Even if it is just a minor effect, the story will stick around and will be remembered when prosectors are pondering how they want to handle such cases in the future and if the political payoff is enough to offset the impact on their life.
  • by pdabbadabba ( 720526 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:17AM (#43357105) Homepage

    In Swartz's case, he wasn't doing anything strictly illegal

    No, he was. As has been quite widely discussed here and elsewhere he was accused of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and, from what I've read, he probably was actually "guilty". And, yes, 35 years is the actual punishment. Sure, the prosecutors have discretion in prosecuting crimes, but I continue to be amazed that all of our abuse is heaped upon the prosecutors for trying to enforce a law THAT CONGRESS ACTUALLY PASSED. Don't get me wrong, I think that 35 years (or, really, any punishment at all) for what Swartz did is nuts.And I think that there is an under-appreciated moral dimension to the prosecution decisions that US attorneys make. But then again, do we really want a system where the prosecutors feel free to enforce a law or not based on their own preferences? Isn't this what a legislature is for? Why are we focusing on the prosecutors who tried to enforce it instead of the actual people who passed and have the power to fix the law?

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:36AM (#43357283)

    Even if it is just a minor effect, the story will stick around and will be remembered when prosectors are pondering how they want to handle such cases in the future and if the political payoff is enough to offset the impact on their life.

    I don't think that's entirely correct I'm afraid. It's been my experience with "Type A" personalities that strong responses from the unwashed masses are not comprehended as consequences. Sure, they understand some of the motivations of the political adversaries, and they can even understand the reactions of the fans of their political adversaries, but when it comes to the mainstream middle, they don't really know how predict what will happen.

    Certainly these people recognize in hindsight when they've made a decision with terrible consequences on them personally, but they have a much harder time predicting in advance. Look at the George Allen Macaca Controversy [] as an example.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:37AM (#43357295)

    FFS, why on earth hasn't she been sacked yet?

    She tried to undermine the courts using an insane number of BS claims, trying to force Aaron to accept a guilty plea rather than let the court decide.

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

    She made political speeches on the back of this case, to promote her political career. At some point she should have been fired for misconduct, but she wasn't. The threats and anger relate to HER INCOMPETENCE at the job.

    Just resign already Carmen, nobody wants you, every prosecution with your name on it, is tainted, because judges will automatically assume you're doing another insane overreach. Do the nice thing, hand in your resignation, you made a mistake, you want to spend more time with your family and FUCK OFF.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein