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DoJ Admits Aaron Swartz's Prosecution Was Political 326

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from a blog post by Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, founder of corporate watchdog and partner of the late Aaron Swartz: "The DOJ has told Congressional investigators that Aaron's prosecution was motivated by his political views on copyright. I was going to start that last paragraph with 'In a stunning turn of events,' but I realized that would be inaccurate — because it's really not that surprising. Many people speculated throughout the whole ordeal that this was a political prosecution, motivated by anything/everything from Aaron's effective campaigning against SOPA to his run-ins with the FBI over the PACER database. But Aaron actually didn't believe it was — he thought it was overreach by some local prosecutors who didn't really understand the internet and just saw him as a high-profile scalp they could claim, facilitated by a criminal justice system and computer crime laws specifically designed to give prosecutors, however incompetent or malicious, all the wrong incentives and all the power they could ever want. But this HuffPo article, and what I’m hearing from sources on the Hill, suggest that that’s not true. That Ortiz and Heymann knew exactly what they were doing: Shutting up, and hopefully locking up, an extremely effective activist whose political views, including those on copyright, threatened the Powers That Be."
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DoJ Admits Aaron Swartz's Prosecution Was Political

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  • Re:I Don't Get It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @09:23AM (#43023405)

    This is easy for you to say when you are not in the situation. A young man who was doing it for all the right reasons, but who was naive about the justice system.

    Remember he admitted it was him, he surrendered his equipment without warrants, etc.

    I hope someone pays dearly for this and I hope the public gets wind of this and revolts against these people that are purchase by corporations.

  • Re:I Don't Get It (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @09:28AM (#43023439)

    Maybe he didn't commit sucide.

  • Sums it up ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @09:32AM (#43023477) Homepage

    But the terrifying fact I'm trying to highlight in this particular blog post is this: According to the DOJ's testimony, if you express political views that the government doesn't like, at any point in your life, that political speech act can and will be used to justify making "an example" out of you once the government thinks it can pin you with a crime.

    This is awful. The idea that copyright (and in fact ideas about copyright) should be enforced as vigorously as this is absurd.

    America has started doing show trials now of people who haven't committed crimes on the basis that their ideas are radical and dangerous?

    The copyright lobby has won, apparently. And doing anything contrary to their wishes will cause the government to go after you.

    Welcome to the oligarchy folks, it's all down from here. I'm not sure how free of a society you can be when commercial interests lead to something like this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @09:44AM (#43023541)

    If you are innocent but a little dangerous the system overreacts and goes into bug squish mode. I didn't have the resources to defend myself without being driven to poverty, I am not too big or important to fail, the perfect target. My crime is being invited by a friends kid to give a first aid and rope safety class to some tree worshiping hippies after a fatality, that got me into the sights of a federal prosecutor as a enviro-terrorist. I found out thanks to a college friend in the prosecutors office. I am a natural born in the continental US citizen, fortunately with an inherited second passport, I had the resources to go expat rather than gamble what the feds would do with their new DHS/patriot act powers.
    Is my life good now, sure, but I still feel that I can not ever visit the US until there is massive change.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @09:49AM (#43023579)

    Remember when it came out, that the FBI actively worked with the banks, to forcibly (and illegally anyway) shut the movement down? They added agents provocateurs, false flag operations, and sowed the seed of conflict, to get them to fall apart.

    The *exact* same thing happened to Wikileaks.

    There's a highly active and highly powerful force in the USA, that shuts down everyone and everything that goes against he enforced groupthink or doesn't let them distract him.

    It's why there are no real other parties, why the media only focuses on two views that are virtually the same and are portrayed as the most extreme differences there could be, and it's especially the reason why there aren't constant riots and attempts to overthrow the dictatorial government, even though it's ripe since a looong time.

    The CIA, the FBI, Homeland Insecurity, the TSA, the NSA, and especially those most powerful government agencies no-one has ever heard of but which somehow are involved in everything. They're all part of it.

    And the people live in extreme schizophrenic denial, flee to the delusions of religion, the reality distortion of the "American dream", and the lies of the "free market".

  • Re:Sums it up ... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @09:51AM (#43023605)

    That is someone's interpretation of the testimony, not the actual testimony. In fact, the "political speech" they are referring to is the 'Guerilla Open Access Manifesto' which the prosecutors were going to use as evidence of criminal intent. The manifesto itself is only a part of *how* he was being prosecuted, not *why* he was being prosecuted.

  • Re:Naturally (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TrentTheThief ( 118302 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @10:00AM (#43023709)

    I know a professional who would disagree with you about personal responsibility. He has made his living for the last ~30 years providing people with a very final dose of personal responsibility. All it takes is someone willing to pay for his services.

  • Re:Naturally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mjr167 ( 2477430 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @10:35AM (#43024049)
    I can't tell if you are talking abut a lawyer or a hitman... And is there a difference?
  • Re:I Don't Get It (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @10:38AM (#43024079)

    Ah yes, the groupthink module has been contaminated, DEATH TO THOSE WHO STRAY FROM THE PARTY LINE.

    Democrats good, Republicans bad. Cognitive dissonance is to be ignored.

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @10:42AM (#43024115)

    I would not really call it a "political" detention, but rather a "coporate" detention. Views on copyright do not really reflect on political issues but rather on corporate profit issues.

    Sure copyrights and patent are part of the legal process of civil society decided by our politics. But in the end their purpose as defined in the laws that enact them is purely to drive a profit.

    Aaron Shwartz, death by corporate agenda.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @01:59PM (#43026447)

    Doesn't sound quite the same as "admitting it's political"

    Not until you get to the part about it being the only thing they had.

    How many files did he distribute? To whom?

  • by LuYu ( 519260 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @02:36PM (#43026765) Homepage Journal

    An article I read said that MIT reacted to JSTOR complaints. It seems from what I have read that JSTOR wanted MIT to be the bad cop while they repeatedly made public statements about how they were willing to let him off. It appears that their PR people may have learned from the Adobe - Sklyarov [] incident.

    In that case, Adobe initiated the case and actively pushed it until the public outcry hit. Then they quickly backed off and claimed they asked for his release. It is impossible to say what really goes on behind closed doors, but the fact that the DOJ refused to drop the case is telling. I have always believed that they backpedaled publicly but kept pushing for prosecution behind closed doors. That way, everything would be perfect: They would get to punish Sklyarov and also hoodwink the public into thinking they were good or at least not so bad.

    JSTOR was probably afraid of weathering the ire of the internet but still wanted him punished as an example. Pushing MIT to be the bad cop would accomplish this goal perfectly. MIT could take the heat, and JSTOR would get its crucifiction. Perfect.

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