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State prosecutors would have let him off

It is starting to look more like hacker Aaron Swartz would be alive if it had not been for the actions of Federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz. Swartz killed himself after the DoJ attempted to get him locked up for years for a trivial case of hacking in which he took papers he was entitled to download.

According to the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly State prosecutors who investigated Swartz for hacking had planned to let him off with a stern warning. However federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took the case over because she wanted to make an example of the Internet activist. According to paperwork seen by Lawyers Weekly, Middle*** County’s district attorney had planned no jail time, “with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally questionable manner.”

But Ortiz’s office took over the case with the aim of sending ‘a message’ to the online community that even trivial hacking would be dealt with harshly.  The idea that she might do this to further her political career has been implied. Ortiz has been criticised for threatening the 26-year-old with decades in prison for allegedly downloading a large quantity of academic papers.  Already there is an online petition asking President Obama to remove from her from office. Ortiz is a politically ambitious prosecutor who was talked about as Massachusetts’ next governor as recently as last month.  She has been getting into more hotwater over her desperate attempts to get good publicity.  

This week she attempting to seize a family-owned for allegedly facilitating drug crimes, despite ample evidence that the owners worked closely with local police. US Magistrate Judge Judith Dein tossed out the case yesterday, siding with the motel owners. The owner of the motel commented that Ortiz should not have the power to pull this stuff on people.