The United States (US) government have issued a lighter sentence statement for deceased computer programmer Aaron Swartz after being accused of driving the convicted web freedom activist to suicide.
The ongoing investigation follows the death of the 26 year-old, whose father Robert Swartz said his son was “killed by the government,” as reported by The Associated Press (AP).
Aaron Swartz, believed to have committed suicide, was found dead in his New York apartment on Friday, January 11.
His death has been viewed as a reaction to the initially released prison sentence of 35 years for federal charges of illegal hacking by accessing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) computer archive.
The latest statement from the US Government by Carmen Ortiz, Federal Prosecutor who sentenced Swartz, reports a punishment of six months as “an appropriate sentence that matched the alleged conduct”.
This contrasts greatly with the original press release that confined Swartz to “35 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million,” as confirmed in 2011 by Oritz.
Although not officially announced, 50 years’ impriSwartz case developments compromises on initial sentence announcementssonment was considered in 2012, together with another list of accusations against Swartz.
Despite these charges, which would mean lifelong imprisonment in most African countries, she was reported to say that the crimes committed by Swartz were “not serious”.
Despite sympathising with all who knew Swartz, Oritz stands by her case in her statement, asserting that “this office’s conduct was appropriate in bringing and handling this case”.
“We felt the indictment was nonsense and that he would be acquitted,” Internet inventor Tim Berners-Lee told the Chicago Sun-Times after the funeral on Saturday.
The family of Swartz told prosecutors that they view Aaron Swartz’s death as “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach”.
“I don’t think he understood just how much the system would come down on him over it, ” James Grimmelmann, a professor at New York Law School who knew Swartz for six years, said. “It was an act of personal risk.”
Swartz, who was battling with depression, was not supported by the MIT and suffered under severe persecution several days before his death.