by JG Vibes
Some very strange things have been happening lately. Last week prominent rifle manufacturer and activist John Noveske died mysteriously well before his time.
This week we are mourning the loss of Aaron Swartz, an activist and computer prodigy who had a hand in developing RSS, co-founding the popular website Reddit, and the activist group “Demand Progress”, among many other contributions. It is being reported that his death was a suicide, but few details have been released thus far.
There is not enough evidence yet to confirm the specifics of his death, but considering his high profile case and his involvement in the fight for internet freedom, foul play is always a possibility.
Just hours ago the Associated Press reported that:
Swartz, 26, hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment, his family confirmed in a statement Saturday. He was pronounced dead Friday evening at home in the Crown Heights neighborhood, Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for New York’s chief medical examiner, said.
According to the Associated Press, the parents still blame the government even though they aren’t openly questioning the details of the death.
In their statement, the Swartz’s family expressed not only grief over his death but anger toward federal prosecutors pursuing the case in Massachusetts against him.
“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach,” the statement from his family and girlfriend said.
Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, faculty director for Safra Center for Ethics where Swartz was once a fellow, wrote: “We need a better sense of justice. … The question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a ‘felon.’”
He is accused of taking educational files off of government servers with the intent of giving it away for free.
The prosecution “makes no sense,” Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal said in a statement at the time. “It’s like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library.
The official version of the of his case that is being put out by the press is as follows:
“Preceding the Massachusetts’ case, Swartz aided Malamud in his effort to post federal court documents for free online, rather than the few cents per page that the government charges through its electronic archive, PACER. Swartz wrote a program in 2008 to legally download the files using free access via public libraries, according to The New York Times. About 20 percent of all the court papers were made available until the government shut down the library access.
The FBI investigated but did not charge Swartz, he wrote on his own website.
Three years later, Swartz was arrested in Boston. The federal government accused Swartz of using the Massachusetts Institute Technology’s computer network to steal nearly 5 million academic articles. The indictment alleged Swartz stole the documents from JSTOR, a subscription service used by MIT that offers digitized copies of articles from more than 1,000 academic journals.
Prosecutors said Swartz hacked into MIT’s system in November of 2010 after breaking into a computer wiring closet on campus. Prosecutors said he intended to distribute the articles on file-sharing websites.
JSTOR did not press charges once it reclaimed the articles from Swartz, and some legal experts considered the case unfounded, saying that MIT allows guests access to the articles and Swartz, a fellow at Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics, was a guest.
Experts puzzled over the arrest and argued that the result of the actions Swartz was accused of was the same as his PACER program: more information publicly available.”
Another article at RT explained that particular situation more in depth, suggesting that the content in question may have even been publicly available:
“Many say the lawsuit is unfounded because MIT allows guests access to JSTOR – and Swartz, who was undertaking a fellowship at Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics at the time of downloading, was a guest.
The case has also been deemed highly controversial because it wasn’t JSTOR – the alleged victim in the case – which referred Swartz to the federal government, according to the company’s vice president of Marketing and Communications, Heidi McGregor. She says JSTOR was content once it reclaimed the works from Swartz.”
The press has also been reporting that he has a history of depression based on a 2007 blog post where he said:
“Surely there have been times when you’ve been sad. Perhaps a loved one has abandoned you or a plan has gone horribly awry. … You feel worthless. … depressed mood is like that, only it doesn’t come for any reason and it doesn’t go for any either.”
Regardless, I am not putting forward any assumptions about how this materialized until we can get some more information. Until then theintelhub.com will be researching this story deeper and bringing you more developments over the next week. May his soul rest in peace and may the work that he has done be remembered for generations.
Watch Aaron Swartz keynote speech – “How we stopped SOPA” at F2C:Freedom to Connect 2012, Washington DC on May 21 2012:
Read more articles by this author HERE.
J.G. Vibes is the author of an 87 chapter counter culture textbook called Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance, a staff writer and reporter for The Intel Hub and host of a show called Voluntary Hippie Radio.
You can keep up with his work, which includes free podcasts, free e-books & free audiobooks at his website www.aotmr.com
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