Aaron Swartz in 2009.
One of the prosecutors in the case of the online pioneer who killed himself this weekend, Aaron Swartz, was accused in 2008 of driving another hacker to suicide.
Some of Swartz’s friends have accused Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Heymann of contributing to Swartz’s suicide, with his unwillingness to compromise on the prosecution of Swartz in a case involving scholarly journal articles.
Back in 2008, another young hacker, Jonathan James, killed himself after being named a suspect in another Heymann case.
James, the first juvenile put into confinement for a federal cybercrime case, was found dead was two weeks after the Secret Service raided his house as part of its investigation of the TJX hacker case led by Heymann — the largest personal identity hack in history. He was thought to be “JJ,” the unindicted co-conspirator named in the criminal complaints filed with the US District Court in Massachusetts. In his suicide note, James wrote that he was killing himself in response to the federal investigation and their attempts to tie him to a crime which he did not commit:
“I have no faith in the ‘justice’ system. Perhaps my actions today, and this letter, will send a stronger message to the public. Either way, I have lost control over this situation, and this is my only way to regain control.”
“Remember,” he wrote, “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether I win or lose, and sitting in jail for 20, 10, or even 5 years for a crime I didn’t commit is not me winning. I die free.”
Heymann received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for “directing the largest and most successful identity theft and hacking investigation and prosecution ever conducted in the United States.”
Swartz’s family has accused Heymann, U.S. Attorneys Scott Garland who was the lead prosecutor, and Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz of contributing to their son’s death, who was known to have suffered from depression. “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 M.I.T. contributed to his death.”
While Ortiz ultimately holds the responsibility for the department, Heymann was the lawyer handling the negotiations with Swartz and his attorneys.
A petition has been put up online demanding that Heymann be fired because of his “overzealous prosecution of an allegedly minor and non-violent electronic crime led to the suicide of Aaron Swartz.”
Christina DiIorio-Sterling, spokesperson for the United States Attorney Office said neither Heymann nor Ortiz would comment. “It is not appropriate to make a public comment,” she said. “We want to respect the family’s privacy at this time.”
In 1998, Heymann also helped bring the first federal prosecution of a juvenile hacker, who brought down air traffic control communications at a Worcester Massachusetts airport. The unidentified teen plead guilty in return for two years probation, a fine, community service and was banned from using a computer with a modem for two years.
Heymann created one of the first computer-crime units in the country. Back in 1996, he prosecuted and supervised the electronic surveillance of the first case using a court-ordered wiretap on a computer network. “Harvard balked at the request,” according to an article in Network World magazine (May 6, 1996). “We don’t monitor the network, and we respect the privacy of our users,” Franklin Steen, the Harvard network director told the magazine. To tap into the system, the DOJ had to get a court order, which came with a gag rule to keep anyone from tipping off the suspect.
The case found Argentinian Julio Cesar Ardita guilty of breaking into the Harvard University computer system, which he then used to break into numerous government sites, including the Department of Defense and NASA.
Please validate your account to contribute content.
Preview Your Response
- djanam Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li...
- GoGoBigO thinks Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... is Win
- robertzombobb Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li...
- Lilillama thinks Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... is WTF
- J Pack thinks Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... is WTF
- roknrollmachine Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li...
This prosecutor deserves an award and a promotion. These two dead thieves aren’t even human, much less real Americans. I hope more of them eat a bullet, or at least make aliyah and get out of our country. One way ticket on El Al? I’ll pay for it. get these scumbags out of our country and pull the Xew welfare payments.
- ViolatedDonut thinks Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... is Fail & WTF
- sabinas Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li...
- PsychedelicSoulPizza Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... and thinks it’s OMG, Fail & WTF
- aeep Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li...
- luchan thinks Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... is OMG
- dedraj thinks Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... is OMFG
HSBC helped drug traffickers and terrorists skirt US laws and launder money. Instructed them how to post their transactions so that the US Gov wouldn’t catch on. Obviously, they are all innocent and deserve just a fine. So we don’t prosecute HSBC. Obviously, the crimes these two young men committed is far worse.
- andi Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... and thinks it’s WTF
- berenice Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... and thinks it’s OMG
The question should be ask of the mentally damaged arrogant and stupid prosecutor, what motivated her damaged little mind to go after the little guy instead of the real crooks. Just proves the DOJ are bought and paid for by the criminal cartels. They are completely bogus in every single thing they do.
- cherriem Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li...
- Jesse Spalding thinks Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... is OMG
- akspa thinks Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... is WTF
- jessycardy + Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... and thinks it’s WTF & OMG
All those Massachusetts prosecutors are absolute total frauds. They must have been supported by the same level of incompetent forensic “experts” as the Annie Dookhan fiasco. They are abusers of power with only one concern - making a name for themselves. Every person responsible from the forensic experts to their bosses and administrators should be fired for tolerating that crap, and every attorney should be disbarred.
Great point about the forensic “expert”, rays10. Are you aware of the corruption in the Probation Department in Massachusetts, the corrupt Middlesex Sheriff, James V. DiPaola that allegedly shot himself in the head rather than be honest with the voters about what he did; the Sheriff’s wife working for the Mayor of Medford, Massachusetts, the Sheriff’s brother-in-law being removed from the Medford Housing Authority; the Governor of Massachusetts wanting to now oversee all the Housing Authorities…the Dookhan case is the tip of the iceberg, Thanks for bringing it up. http://medfordinformationcentral.blogspot.com has more details
- Anthony B. thinks Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li... is WTF
- catherinocalypse Internet Activist's Prosecutor Li...
I really don’t understand why anyone would thing Aaron was a criminal to me he is a hero, and always will be. As a researcher it seems to me that JSTOR is the criminal considering that the majority of the research that JSTOR has in their possession was paid for by the tax payers of the USA through the NIH and the NSF. One would think that that information would be made available to the public that paid for it. Especially considering that making that information available to the largest group of people possible would facilitate the greatest possible good to come from it. Ignorance is so sad.