Suburban Internet activist, 26, dies awaiting trial

January 14, 2013 3:07:13 PM PST
Federal prosecutors in Boston have dismissed charges against Internet freedom activist and Reddit cofounder Aaron Swartz, who was found dead in his New York apartment last week.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and the lead prosecutor on the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann, filed a three-line notice of dismissal in court Monday.

The notice says the case is being dismissed because of Swartz's death. Such filings are routine when a defendant dies before trial.

Swartz was indicted in 2011 on 13 counts, including wire fraud and computer fraud. Prosecutors alleged he illegally gained access to millions of academic articles through the academic database JSTOR. His trial was scheduled to begin in April.

Swartz's family says his suicide was "the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach." A statement from his employer also blamed Massachusetts authorities and MIT for contributing to Swartz's suicide.

Swartz is survived by his parents Robert and Susan Swartz, his younger brothers Noah and Ben, and his partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman.

Swartz's funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, at Central Avenue Synagogue, 874 Central Avenue, Highland Park.

Swartz was a 26-year-old software developer at ThoughtWorks. The company said in a statement Swartz committed suicide Friday.

"Aaron's technical accomplishments are legion. At a very young age, he was positioned to become a wealthy tech mogul, but Aaron selflessly chose a different path. He used technology in brilliant and courageous ways to empower people and democratize access to information, as vehicles for expression, and as tools for organizing movements," the company statement said.

ThoughtWorks said Swartz was facing 35 years in prison.