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Petition To Oust Aaron Swartz Prosecutor Hits 25,000 Goal

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

White House should now issue a response on the Aaron Swartz case

The White House is set to make a comment on the case of Aaron Swartz, the Internet activist and Reddit co-founder who committed suicide last week.

A petition on the White House website, which wants to see a prosecutor involved in Swartz’s case fired, reached 25,000 signatures – the point at which the Barack Obama government is required to issue an official response.

Aaron Swartz photo by Sage Ross via Wikipedia leadThe US government, in an unrelated move, subsequently decided to up the number of signatures needed for a White House response to 100,000.

Anger over Swartz death

US attorney Carmen Ortiz has been the focus of much anger over Swartz’s death, as she led the investigation into the former Harvard fellow, who was accused of stealing a large swathe of documents from journal archive JSTOR by setting up a system to siphon off data at MIT.

Swartz’s family and others heaped opprobrium on Ortiz and MIT for their roles in his suicide. MIT subsequently set up an investigation to look into how it may have contributed.

The petition said it wanted Ortiz removed from office for “overreach” in the Swartz case.

Ortiz has not issued a formal response herself, but her husband, who turns out to be an IBM executive, appears to have taken to Twitter to comment on the matter. Whilst the account of Tom Dolan has now been taken offline, Beta Beat reported that Dolan tweeted: “Aaron Swartz was offered a plea deal of six months. Six months is not 35 years.”

Meanwhile, Buzzfeed has found a link between US attorney Stephen Heymann, who coordinated negotiations with Swartz and his attorneys, and the suicide of another young hacker – Jonathan James.

James killed himself after being accused of being involved in hacking TJX, the company involved in one of the biggest data breaches of all time. Heymann was in charge of that investigation, after which he was eventually given the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service.

Swartz’s funeral was held yesterday, as more tributes poured in for the man who made so many contributions to the Internet.

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