Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Aaron Swartz Was Probed by Secret Service

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 Image by daniel sieradski

“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.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.