Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz' family blame MIT prosecutors for suicide
The family of Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz has accused the prosecutors acting on behalf of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) of contributing to his suicide.
Swartz’ family released a statement making the accusations following his death on Friday, where the internet campaigner is understood to have hung himself.
He was facing prosecution on hacking charges relating to the downloading of millions of academic papers from the Institute’s online archive.
The statement from his family said: “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 US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”
A blog post on reddit mourned the passing of Swartz, stating: “We at Reddit were saddened by the news of Aaron’s passing. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family and loved ones.”
A tribute from the creator of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners Lee on Twitter said; "Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down. Parents all, we have lost a child. Let us weep."
The full statement from the parents and partner of Swartz can be read below:
Our beloved brother, son, friend, and partner Aaron Swartz hanged himself on Friday in his Brooklyn apartment. We are in shock, and have not yet come to terms with his passing.
Aaron’s insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable—these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter. We’re grateful for our time with him, to those who loved him and stood with him, and to all of those who continue his work for a better world.
Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge. He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place. His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more.
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.
Today, we grieve for the extraordinary and irreplaceable man that we have lost.