Aaron was indicted in July 2011 by a federal grand jury for allegedly downloading millions of documents from JSTOR through the MIT network — using a laptop hidden in a basement network closet in MIT’s Building 16 — with the intent to distribute them. Swartz subsequently moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he then worked for Avaaz Foundation, a nonprofit “global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.”
Swartz appeared in court on Sept. 24, 2012 and pleaded not guilty.
JSTOR later dropped its civil charges, but MIT was opaque about its wishes. The U.S. Attorney's office decided to pursue the case, which was scheduled to begin this spring.
“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 read. “Decisions made by officials in the U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”
Aaron was 26. He suffered from depression and was facing charges for for violating federal hacking laws for downloading millions of academic articles from a subscription database service that MIT had given him access to via a guest account. If he would have been found guilty, he was facing 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Charges that are way beyond the normal scale only compared to terrorist's crimes forfeits.
Leo Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced in a statement Sunday that the school will be conducting an investigation of its involvement in the case of Aaron Swartz
"Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT," Reif wrote. "I have asked Professor Hal Abelson to lead a thorough analysis of MIT’s involvement from the time that we first perceived unusual activity on our network in fall 2010 up to the present. I have asked that this analysis describe the options MIT had and the decisions MIT made, in order to understand and to learn from the actions MIT took."
"He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A soul, a conscience, the source of a question I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think," wrote Harvard academic, activist and personal friend of Swartz Lawrence Lessig.
"He was a kind of 21st century, nerd renaissance man," wrote MSNBC's Chris Hayes in a blog post Sunday.
"Wanderers in this crazy world, we have lost a mentor, a wise elder", wrote World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee.
"He had an astonishingly broad range of interests, from health care to political corruption," wrote technology policy reporter Timothy Lee in the Washington Post. "But Internet freedom and public access to information were two recurring themes in his life and work."
I'd like to remember him on this 2007 article he wrote encouraging us all to get the job we dreamed of and for being the forster of projects like Open Library. We should listen very carefull for his words are in harmony with his accomplishments, and in the video below he'll explain a bit better the story behind the SOPA/PIPA Bills and how not only he but everybody who took a stand won the right for an uncensored internet.