US prosecutor's husband responds in Swartz death
BOSTON (WHDH) -- The husband of a federal prosecutor criticized by the family of Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz for driving him to suicide has fought back.
Boston-based U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office was going after Swartz, the co-founder of Reddit, on charges he stole millions of scientific articles from MIT. Ortiz’s husband allegedly made remarks on Twitter about Swartz’s suicide.
Swartz, 26, faced 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted of charges he illegally downloaded millions of academic documents from MIT.
The school cooperated with investigators, including the secret service. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz decided to prosecute Swartz, his family claimed too vigorously.
Swartz, who reportedly suffered from depression, committed suicide in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Friday.
At Swartz’s funeral north of Chicago this week, his father said Swartz was “killed by the government and MIT betrayed all of its basic principles.”
“The major cause of this man’s death was because of bullying by the federal prosecutors,” said Dr. Jeanne Beckmann, a psychologist who attended Swartz’s funeral.
Reports say Ortiz would have allowed Swartz to serve just six months behind bars if he agreed to plead guilty to 13 counts. Swartz’s lawyer rejected the deal.
The Boston Globe reported Ortiz’ husband, Tom Dolan, tweeted: "Truly incredible that in their own son's obit they blame others for his death and make no mention of the 6-month offer."
It appears Dolan took his Twitter account down, but not before being bombarded with criticism for attacking a grieving family.
Protesters held a small vigil outside the federal courthouse in South Boston. They were sharply critical of prosecutors for threatening a long prison term and a big fine.
“They harassed him into an early grave,” said one woman.
Wikileaks has been pushing an online petition, calling for the White House to remove Ortiz as U.S. Attorney. At least 100,000 signatures are required to force a response from the Obama Administration. To date, more than 36,000 people have signed the petition.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz responded to Swartz's death late Wednesday night saying, “…I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to everyone who knew and loved this young man. I know that there is little I can say to abate the anger felt by those who believe that this office’s prosecution of Mr. Swartz was unwarranted and somehow led to the tragic result of him taking his own life.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz went on to say, “I must, however, make it clear that this office’s conduct was appropriate in bringing and handling this case…The prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain, and they recognized that his conduct -- while a violation of the law -- did not warrant the severe punishments authorized by Congress and called for by the Sentencing Guidelines in appropriate cases.”