Aaron Swartz didn't face prison until Feds, led by Ortiz, jumped on case

Declan McCullagh writes at CNET News: "State prosecutors who investigated the late Aaron Swartz had planned to let him off with a stern warning, but federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over and chose to make an example of the Internet activist, according to a report in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly."



  1. Making an example of a person via law is misfeasance when a disproportionate outcome is sought as a means of raising public awareness or any other objective outside the scope of the treatment of the individual in question under the law.

    Someone needs to go ahead and take legal action if Ortiz admitted, acknowledged or allowed this in reference to Aaron Swartz.

    Win or lose, it may check this behaviour in a person who clearly is willing to abuse power even to outcomes now witnessed.

    If she wanted to make an example, she had the responsibility to find an appropriate one.

    1. Well, that’s because the seized property is then auctioned off and the proceeds go…guess where…! It’s a budget builder for the prosecutors office.


      1. It was always a really bad idea and a perverse way to motivate law enforcement to bring Roman style proscription into it.  I’m reminded of “I Claudius” when Caligula had informers accusing people of treason so he could seize their property.

        Still, at least the proscribed people are just ruined financially and not decapitated, as in Rome, though I suspect some end up taking their own lives.

  2. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if there was a little bit of political suppression involved in the manner in which they decided to prosecute him.

    1. Give more voice to its collective opposition is the safest and most effective thing an individual can do.

      Also if you break laws that are commonly associated with the problem, marijuana laws for instance, then keep at it civilly but don’t get caught. When people can look left and right then realize that a law is meaningless, they also know it is a harmful law and it must change to accommodate society rather than society accommodating the law.

      I guess the average person should live free or die for best results, but in a civil manner not the manner most often associated with the phrase.

    2. As an individual, not much. As people we can donate time, money and effort to the the good guys, ACLU, EFF in the U.S. and the EDRI E.U. look also for digital rights organisations in your specific country for legal help. Publicity also plays a big part. If you of someone you know is being persecuted unfairly. inform the media and any interested groups online.

    1. I’m not surprised she’s still in office, I’m surprised she hasn’t gotten a promotion.

      I’m… somewhat cynical about the American political system.

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