Ortiz: Did not want long term for Swartz

Jan. 17, 2013 at 1:04 AM
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BOSTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. attorney in Boston, said Wednesday she had no intention of seeking a lengthy prison term for internet activist Aaron Swartz.

Ortiz, in her first statement since Swartz killed himself Friday, offered her "heartfelt sympathy to everyone who knew and loved this young man." But she also defended the decision to prosecute Swartz for downloading an MIT database of articles from scientific journals in a statement published by The Verge.

Swartz's family and many in the tech and freedom of information communities have said the prosecution was a stretch and contributed to his suicide. In theory, he could have received a sentence of decades in prison if convicted of wire fraud and computer fraud.

"The prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain, and they recognized that his conduct -- while a violation of the law -- did not warrant the severe punishments authorized by Congress and called for by the sentencing guidelines in appropriate cases," Ortiz said. "That is why in the discussions with his counsel about a resolution of the case this office sought an appropriate sentence that matched the alleged conduct -- a sentence that we would recommend to the judge of six months in a low-security setting."

Swartz, 26, was a computer prodigy and one of the designers of the RSS format. He hanged himself in his apartment in New York.

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