Aaron Swartz Was Probed by Secret Service

Document Dump Reveals Feds Eyed Online Activist

By Anne Cohen

Published August 13, 2013.
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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.


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