Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz, who was found dead in his New York apartment Friday, struggled for years against a legal system that he felt had not caught up to the information age. Federal prosecutors had tried unsuccessfully to mount a case against him for publishing reams of court documents that normally cost a fee to download. He helped lead the campaign to defeat a law that would have made it easier to shut down websites accused of violating copyright protections.
In the end, Swartz’s family said, that same system helped cause his death by branding as a felon a talented young activist who was more interested in spreading academic information than in the fraud federal prosecutors had charged him with.
The death by suicide of Swartz, 26, was “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach,” his family said in a statement Saturday. Swartz’s trial was set to begin in April, with an early hearing scheduled for later this month.