Aaron Swartz’s past activism and ‘Guerilla Open Access Manifesto’ played a part in his prosecution, sources told US media. Prosecutors pursued him even though he had not yet leaked anything, as his manifesto proved his alleged “malicious intent.”
Swartz’s manifesto “demonstrated his malicious intent” in downloading documents on a massive scale, reads a Huffington Post’s report quoting anonymous Justice Department representatives.
In his manifesto, Aaron Swartz stated that sharing information was a “moral imperative” and advocated “civil disobedience” against copyright laws. He called for action against the “privatization of knowledge,” which he dubbed a “fight for Guerilla Open Access.”
Swartz’s statements played a role in federal prosecutors plan to indict him for downloading millions of scholarly articles from the JSTOR database in 2011, congressional staffers were reportedly told during a recent congressional briefing.
The briefing, held for the Congressional Oversight Committee, was part of an investigation into the government’s prosecution of the late activist and coder, who committed suicide on January 11 at the age of 26.
Family, friends and supporters of Swartz have maintained the aggressive prosecution was a decisive factor in his suicide. At the time of his death, Swartz was facing a felony conviction, a prison sentence of up to 35 years and a $1-million fine.
The Justice Department has defended the federal prosecutors, denying the claims. Steven Reich, an associate deputy attorney general, reportedly said at the briefing the prosecutors acted “in a reasonable manner” and within the frame of “adequate deterrence to criminal conduct,” in order to deter others from committing similar offenses.