The report finds that MIT is not responsible for the criminal charges brought on Swartz, which many believe contributed to his decision to commit suicide. The report writes that, “MIT never requested that a criminal prosecution be brought against Aaron Swartz,” and that, “in keeping with its stance of neutrality, MIT never issued a public statement about Swartz’s prosecution or advocated publicly on his behalf.”
The report even claims that, “Before Aaron Swartz’s suicide, the MIT community paid scant attention to the matter, other than during the period immediately following his arrest.”
You can read the entirety of the 200-page report below:
The Reddit co-founder and Internet transparency guru Aaron Swartz was only 26 years old when he took his life in January 2013 after learning that he soon faced up to a 50-year jail sentence and a $4 million fine. He was charged with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for unlawfully gaining access to computers at MIT and using this access to download copyrighted scholarly material and upload it to the web for unrestricted access.
After his death, Swartz’s family released a brief statement saying that the charges against Aaron were too harsh and that MIT contributed to his death:
Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.
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