Monday, September 1st, 2014

‘Aaron was Killed by the Government’ – Robert Swartz on His Son’s Death

Published on January 16, 2013 by   ·   No Comments

RT

The father of information activist Aaron Swartz blames US prosecutors for his son’s death, RT’s Andrew Blake reports from an emotional Tuesday morning funeral outside of Chicago.

Aaron Swartz, 26, was found dead on Friday of a reported suicide. Swartz had been instrumental in designing software that aimed to make the Internet easy and open for everyone, and also co-founded both Reddit.com and Demand Progress — one of the most visited sites on the Web and an highly touted activism organization, respectively.

But while friends, family and loved ones recalled Swartz’ compassion for technology and his utter selflessness during Tuesday’s service, those in attendance did not shy away from acknowledging the tremendous legal trouble that plagued the activist in recent years.

In 2011, federal prosecutors charged Swartz with a series of counts under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, crimes that could have sent him away to prison for upwards of 35 years if convicted. Swartz, said the government, entered a building at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloaded millions of academic and scholarly papers from the service JSTOR with presumably the intent of distributing them for free.

“Aaron did not commit suicide but was killed by the government,” Robert Swartz said during Tuesday’s service at the Central Avenue Synagogue in Highland Park, Illinois. “Someone who made the world a better place was pushed to his death by the government.”

During the funeral, which lasted little less than 90 minutes, phrases such as “Googled,” “Anonymous,” “hackers” and “the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act” were spoken so nonchalantly it was as if including them in the service was simply to be expected. Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, Swartz’s partner, said amidst laughter and tears that one of her fondest memories of Aaron as of late was an early-morning moment from only weeks earlier when he insisted she help him spend hours analyzing an advanced algebraic math equation he was determined to solve.

In her eulogy as well as those offered by others, the take-away by and large was that Swartz, to the ones closest to the computer genius, was adamant on social change.

“Aaron meant more to our people than I think anyone else we know,” said Stinebrickner-Kauffman, who met Swartz through a tight-knit circle of activists from New England.

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