Torvalds slams prosecutor for Swartz's suicide

Summary:Linux founder Linux Torvalds claimed that Carmen Ortiz zealously prosecuted 24-year-old hacktivist Aaron Swartz starting in 2011 and that this led in part to his untimely death by suicide.

Linux inventor and big open source backer Linus Torvalds hinted that he blames the prosecutor in part for the death of hacker-activist Aaron Swartz earlier this month.

In a blog last week, Torvalds points out that prosecutor Carmen Ortiz denied that she zealously prosecuted the 26 year old but showed through press clips in 2011 that Ortiz was singing a different tune back then. 

Torvalds basically called Ortiz a liar who should atone for what some say was her zealous over-prosecution of Mr Swartz, who committed suicide in mid January. 

"I haven't bothered to mention the whole sad Aaron Swartz saga, because it's been covered elsewhere," Torvalds wrote on Jan. 17. "But having the involved US attorney then basically lie about it all in a very public statement is something that I find particularly offensive."

"Compare these two statements - one from July 2011, one from yesterday, and tell me Carmen Ortiz isn't lying," Torvalds posted on January 17. 

First, he cited Ortiz's comments to the Wall Street Journal after Swartz's death this month:

At no time did this office ever seek – or ever tell Mr. Swartz’s attorneys that it intended to seek – maximum penalties under the law.

Yet, Torvalds points out that the government was seeking very serious criminal penalties against the young hacktivist in 2011. Swartz was facing dozens of years in prison for allegedly trying to make MIT academic journal articles public.

"Swartz faces up to 35 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million," the government charged. 

Torvalds goes on to say that an apology is the least she and her office can do. 

"Ms Ortiz, just admit you were an ass-hat, and apologize," Torvalds wrote. "Instead of this kind of crap. Weasel-wording and misleading about your actions is not making your office look any better."

Topics: Legal

About

Paula Rooney has covered the software and technology industry for more than 20 years, starting with semiconductor design and mini-computer systems at EDN News and later focused on PC software companies including Microsoft, Lotus, Oracle, Red Hat, Novell and other open source and commercial software companies for CRN and PCWeek. She receiv... Full Bio

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