Aaron Swartz Was Probed by Secret Service

Document Dump Reveals Feds Eyed Online Activist

By Anne Cohen

Published August 13, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The U.S. Secret Service has released the first 104 pages of documents about coder and activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide in November, less than three months before his impending trial.

According to Wired’s Kevin Poulsen, who first obtained and published the documents, the information also included a short report on Swartz’s death.

Aaron Swartz
daniel sieradski
Aaron Swartz

“On 1/11/13, Aaron Swartz was found dead in his apartment in Brooklyn, as a result of an apparent suicide,” reads a Secret Service memo dating January 17, 20. “A suppression hearing in this had been scheduled for 1/25/13 with a trial date of 4/1/13, in U.S. District Court of the District of Massachusetts.”

In January 2011, Swartz was caught downloading 4 million academic articles and papers from the JSTOR database using the Massachussetts Institute of Technology’s network, and was federally indicted on 13 charges, including computer fraud, theft of information and wire fraud. He faced $1 million in fines and up to 35 years in jail.

Among the main findings in the newly released documents is the fact that the Secret Service was interested in the “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,” which Swartz had written along with others and which called for more open information, the Guardian reported.

Nearly every page has been redacted in some way, making it impossible to see the names of investigators or those who talked about Swartz to government officials, the Guardian added.

The documents also include evidence logs, listing equipment handed over by Swartz or seized by the government.

Poulsen, a former Hacker who worked with Swartz on the Deaddrop project (an anonymouse drop box for leaked documents), filed a Freedom of Information Act requesting the files on Swartz held by the Secret Service earlier this year, a request which was originally denied.

According to Poulsen, the government has since identified 14,500 pages of relevant documents, which will be released on a rolling basis over the next six months.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.