Aaron Swartz commits suicide

5505 swartz
Aaron Swartz was found dead on Friday, January 11. He was 26 years old.

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: A previous version of this article identified Aaron Swartz as a co-owner of reddit. Swartz was initially the founder of Infogami, which later merged with reddit into Not A Bug.

Editor’s Note: See our blog for a summary of The Tech’s coverage on Aaron Swartz.

Computer activist Aaron H. Swartz committed suicide in New York City yesterday, Jan. 11, according to his uncle, Michael Wolf, in a comment to The Tech. Swartz was 26.

“The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true,” confirmed Swartz’ attorney, Elliot R. Peters of Kecker and Van Nest, in an email to The Tech.

Swartz was indicted in July 2011 by a federal grand jury for allegedly downloading millions of documents from JSTOR through the MIT network — using a laptop hidden in a basement network closet in MIT’s Building 16 — with the intent to distribute them. Swartz subsequently moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he then worked for Avaaz Foundation, a nonprofit “global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.” Swartz appeared in court on Sept. 24, 2012 and pleaded not guilty.

The accomplished Swartz co-authored the now widely-used RSS 1.0 specification at age 14, founded Infogami which later merged with the popular social news site reddit, and completed a fellowship at Harvard’s Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption. In 2010, he founded, a “campaign against the Internet censorship bills SOPA/PIPA.”

gregorylent over 10 years ago

harassed by the government as he was, cannot blame him. life in a corporatocracy.

mary hodder over 10 years ago

Very sad.. i'm so sorry for his family and friends.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Very sad to hear the news. He was a brilliant young man.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Aaron... was one of our very best. We will not forget. #openscience

Anonymous over 10 years ago

damn you Aaron Swartz, damn you. We. Love. You! Rest well dear friend, rest well... May your wings be free and your soul forevermore in peace. You've enriched the mosaic of my own.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Rest in peace.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

How incredibly sad. You can put his name next to Turing's as that of yet another bright young man murdered by his government.

Pseric over 10 years ago

Rest In Peace.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

RIP Aaron. Damn the prosecutors, and the US criminal "justice" system-and MIT for pursuing him

Casey over 10 years ago

Yeah, blame the government. I have the feeling that was the last thing on his mind, not the first. Please just learn something from the space he leaves behind.

micah over 10 years ago

wish he knew the support he had. quite sad to hear

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Gone too soon. Way too soon. RIP.

Anonymous over 10 years ago


Anonymous over 10 years ago

Lol what a faggot

Grif over 10 years ago


Deal over 10 years ago

good job government

Anonymous over 10 years ago

May your soul fly high and smile again.

I did not know you before reading this, Man, only thing I hope is that now you feel better than before.

If we knew each other, you could have asked for my help as a friend.

Maybe your departure will make some people realize how far we are from each other as persons..

Blame government? Too easy.

Blame our own ego which is tied to a pathological materialism, need for money, personal success, forgetting what has the biggest value in the world:

Human beeing. Persons. Persons with their difficulties, up and downs, moments of magnificient brightness... Persons which sometimes look lonely.

Our biggest guilt is we had this guy loose his "faith" in this world.

Bad people (in this case and many others, government) can destroy your life.

But the thing that is gonna make you loose all your hopes and say "bye bye" is seeing other people around being indifferent.

We need to be closer to each other.

If we notice someone having a bit of a stressful time, a strange situation, we need to talk to him/her, we need to show we are close to him/her as a human being, even if we do not know him/her. Anything but just don't walk over.

He/She just needs to be reassured that the world is still a nice place to be. And it is, because of us. Don't let them forget this.

If you notice someone in a bit of a difficult moment, talk to himher.

Don't let this happen again!

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Le Monkey Face will never be the same..

RIP IN LE PEACE sweet prince, your my hero.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Thank you anon and RIP Aaron!

Anonymous over 10 years ago

What Casey said.

Evan Schoepke over 10 years ago

This is a aaron. All he wanted to do was share....

Léna over 10 years ago

I'm an open-access activist, a PhD student in computer science and a dedicated Wikimedian. I'm very sad not to had the opportunity to meet Aaron Swartz. I'm also as old as him, making his suicide even more horrifying.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

This was Aaron.

RIP, Aaron.

You won't be forgotten and all your efforts will be brought on for the same good causes that moved you. Thank you.

Our hearts are with you.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

he's also founded

Ralph Coffman over 10 years ago

soooo sorry. We have lost some talent that could have been used to create our New Better World. Every departing such as this diminishes each and every one of us. We are all created for a reason so each of us are precious and our lives matter. Don't ever give up. Thank you #17 for your clear words.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Tragic, if his heart was for the Good!

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Prayers for you and your family, Aaron. RIP

Graham J over 10 years ago

I use RSS every day. Thanks man.

sjreese over 10 years ago

funny .. the FBI terminates its cases with fire ; the US Attorney with suicide .. there is a long history of this ... Waco, Ruby Ridge, Abbie Hoffman SDS. the Prozac sanction : So they take a deposition after 3 hours offer you a drink of water after 6 more hours they reschedule more .. the drug in the drink goes to work. It's only a matter of time from there ...

Joshua S. over 10 years ago

Rest In Peace.

Stephen Downes over 10 years ago

So much potential, so much brilliance, focused toward good. A sad loss.

Lewis Z. Koch over 10 years ago

I had the pleasure of interviewing Aaron for a NPR segment when he was 16. He was filled with thoughtful idealism. Having written about computer "hackers," [in the Steve Jobs sense of the word] Aaron represented the very best that youth has to offer the nation. There must have been several forces that drove him down this tragic end, but one, certainly, has to have been the ignorant and despicable governmental thugs that conspired and contributed to this loss. Just check his web site to get a hint of his genius and humanity. I for one would like to know the names and organizations of those in government whose active participation caused resulted in this tragic end.

My deepest sympathies to his family,

cyplo over 10 years ago

Yeah, right, suicide.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

too much to lose, too fast, if only he had put a small block of time between the downtime and checking out, preset that space with a promise to hop on a plane, a boat a train, visit other places in the world, so many experiences and other worlds to see, people to meet, problems to solve and his talent is so needed, perhaps it would have broken through, that the downtimes are temporary, it gets better for everybody. depression is a loop that can be broken, prepare for that state, monitor it, act on it by physically moving out of the environment, the scene, there is too much to do and not enough time, all mental states are temporary, all life is precious, we need everyone they are part of us and us of them. the other Aarons out there; prepare for these states, recognize them, slip through them. The world is huge, your experiences and consciousness can be as varied, complex and incredible as you want them to be, fix it in your head: you are in control:

from Twain: dream other dreams and better.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Personally, id rather walk the streets and set every human, child and building on fire, and go down in a bloody cruel blaze of glory, walking in pools of blood, ripping out the tongues of the dying screaming people, before i ever gave into suicide.


Anonymous over 10 years ago


Anonymous over 10 years ago

Such a tragedy. History will judge MIT harshly for contributing to his arrest and overzealous persecution. Sad to see our institutions hand in his death.

skeptikool over 10 years ago

As Julian Assange and that imprisoned and abused US soldier have shown us, Internet activism may be dangerous to your health. A thorough investigation is called for here.

Dave over 10 years ago

if we believe in what he believed in we will do what he wanted us to do, will we not?

Anonymous over 10 years ago

RIP Aaron.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Obama and others in government take heed. Start supporting public domain rights and public domain expansion. Learn about this man and his intent. As burdened as he might have been by mental illness, there was much truth, grace and strength in the life he led.

Alex Skywalker over 10 years ago

Suicide or Suicided?

jw over 10 years ago

I hadn't heard of Aaron before this news, but I'm familiar with his works. Rest in peace, you were far too young to feel there was no other solution.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Reddit checking in!

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Don't make a martyr/hero out of this bum. He disguised himself/hid his face from security cameras because he knew what he was doing was illegal. Just another petulant child pretending the world owes him something and that he shouldn't have consequences for his actions. You don't disguise yourself, break in through a security door, break into a closet, and do whatever you want even at the expense of real students doing real research if you have a shred of integrity.

This piece of garbage was an embarrassment to ethics.

Luis Gonzalez over 10 years ago

I'm so sad by his loss.

Aaron was the creator of webpy, my favourite python framework for web development.

From now on, every time I use this piece of software, I'll remember him with gratitude.

Paul Byrne over 10 years ago

45 Calling a man who has just died by suicide 'garbage' - surely disqualifies you from making any kind of pronouncements on ethics.

donP over 10 years ago

Suicided? there is a more of this sort of BS going on worldwide to those who oppose the Corporacrazy, than is explainable by coincidense. We won't forget, or forgive, expect...

prairie over 10 years ago

#35 That's how the crazed mass shooters see things. You know nothing of suicide unless you've been to the brink of that decision. If you'd ever stood there you would know it is anything but weak.

#17 Well said.

Rest in peace, bright light.

Brewster Kahle over 10 years ago

A hero for me. Aaron's work with the Internet Archive

Amid Yousef over 10 years ago

How Sad, will anyone get prosecuted for him being gone? for our society loosing such a talent?


Who gives these creeps the right to act like PUBLIC TYRANTS, pursuing injustices and making people like AARON feel so terrible that he would take his own life?

Will we be ever prosecuting ANYONE for making him feel that way?

May G_D rest your soul SIR and may we heal by honoring your mission... Bringing CROWD decision making to those "C" students BABOONS in governments everywhere

Tristan Louis over 10 years ago

RIP aaronsw

Like a shooting star you shone brightly but all too briefly.

Franck Dernoncourt over 10 years ago

"Indicted for downloading scientific publications with the intent to distribute them."

Shouldn't such an induction outrage everyone at MIT??? Isn't it part of our goals - as MIT community members - to create and distribute scientific knowledge to anyone?

The underlines pretty well the insanity of the current paid-access system to research articles. lists and details some of its negative effects, which are quite obvious anyway. How comes public research's results are not public as well? This blows my mind.

As a side note there is a society for open science at MIT. Ping me if you want more information or to become a member: francky at mit dot edu. (no ad intended, just trying to continue his work)

RIP Aaron.

Fred Butzen over 10 years ago

What a terrible loss. I knew Aaron casually, through his father, Bob Swartz, for whom I worked in 80s and 90s. Aaron's grandfather was one of the founders of the Pugwash conferences, and of the Albert Einstein Peace Prize foundation. The death of any young person is a tragedy; the death of any young by suicide is a horror beyond words. That he was so gifted underscores the loss. My heart goes out to his father and mother and all in his family.

spyder23 over 10 years ago

For all you nuts saying he died by the government, he committed suicide! Was not murdered! Usually owards commit suicide

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Some real cowards posting in the comments here... way to disparage a dead man, hope you feel big about yourselves.

Anders over 10 years ago

I do not believe at all he commited suicide. The same old sad story police claims again and again, in the US and everywhere. Someone like him with such a strong will to change things in this rotten world would never commit suicide.

Investigate this because,most probably, has been suicided.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

fuck :(

Anonymous over 10 years ago

you all need to read this:

by cory docktorow

too many here are sounding like wackos...

leave that to the gun nuts...

Anonymous over 10 years ago

MIT needs to publicly apologize for its actions in this case. After JSTOR dropped charges, MIT should also have done the same.

We all know that the powers-that-be are looking for excuses to get people like Aaron. Institutions need to stand up against them.

Spaceman Spiff over 10 years ago

So sad. Now, let's make sure this IS a suicide, and not something more onerous! He did not seem to me to be someone who would collapse under such bogus pressures...

kreemer over 10 years ago

Aaron. I don't even know you. And yet, here I am, at 11pm in Kenya, crying for you. I am contemplating your life, pondering your pain. I am thinking about your family and friends, and the people who met you, even for a little while, who now feel that '...I knew him...' feeling.

I am thinking about myself, and what would have happened if I had killed myself.

I am remembering that at the time, it seemed like the only thing to do, the best thing to do.

Well. I don't know you. Didn't know of you until an hour ago.

I use Reddit a lot. I get to read the news about everything and pick fights with stupid people so I can feel better about myself.

Right now, I want to tell you not to worry. That I know you are aware of people like me - that you're preparing the work you must do.

Go to your mother and father and brothers and sisters. Tell them not to be angry. Tell them they are not to blame. Let them know that you are alright.

Endeavour to make practical differences in their lives. Remember that on Earth, money can make a practical difference.

A deferred court ruling. The absolution of financial debt.

I am sad right now, over someone I did not know...but I think I understand, I really do.

Don't be frightened by the light shining through, don't be disturbed by the choice you made.

From someone who did not know you - be free now. And act.

Tell my sister that I love her.


Bill Goode over 10 years ago

I had never heard of Aaron Swartz prior to this sad event. Now that I learn of the great contributions he made, it is becoming very apparent that this event was no suicide. From what I read about Aaron's strength of intention, dedication and abilities, it's pretty apparent that this was no suicide. I would suggest to his attorney family that they dig deeper to learn of what really happened. It is apparent that the federal government was having trouble winning its case, and yet wanted Aaron removed from the scene.

Veronica over 10 years ago

The lesson that Aaron may have wanted to share: NEVER FORGET YOUR LOVE. whatever you face you have the capacity to face it squarely, look it in the eye and declare: MY LOVE IS BIGGER THAN THAT.

Aaron: the flower is,

the sun shines,

you are naturally eternal bliss consciousness, being.


Anonymous over 10 years ago

I do not believe this brilliant young man committed suicide and neither should you .

Please investigate this young man's death.

Timothy Miller over 10 years ago

A drive to think ethically is sorely lacking in so many people. Why is it so often that those who do have this drive are driven to self-destruction? Probably because they come to realize just how bad and unfixable the world really is and can't take it. We need more people who want to do the right thing, not fewer. Most definitely a tragedy.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

It is shocking to consider that Federal prosecutors hounded this young man to death, while they have did essentially nothing to punish the mega-malfeasance in the financial services industry that led to the collapse of the world economy, despite widespread accusations of fraud and criminal conspiracy that ended up hurting hundreds of millions of people. How many people did Aaron hurt? None, would be the first approximation.

Roy Russell over 10 years ago

Lawrence Lessig posted this on his blog, "Prosecutor as Bully"

I say shame on MIT for their behavior here as well. MIT of all places should realize that Aaron was the last person that deserved prosecution. Time for MIT's general counsel to admit mea maxima culpa.

Walt Bahn over 10 years ago

# 34 and others have written about reality to us, the observer: very beautifully.

But, when a person is stuck in the depth of depression: all realistic relief SEEMS impossible to obtain.

That's where we -the observer- need to intervene: just as we would when we see a child running into the street.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Family and friends confirmed suicide. Usually when someone takes his or her own life, it has been too painful to carry on living, and death is the way to end the suffering. It is a terrible tragedy. Rest in peace.

Simon J. Hernandez over 10 years ago

I am sorry to have never been able to thank you, Sir, for all of your contributions and for your inspiration to others. I will never forget the very brief moments we had together. I always had the deepest respect for you, and was in awe of your intellect and careful insights. I wish you a peaceful eternity Aaron.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Since suicide is now decriminalized, the Samaritan media guideline recommends using phrases like "died by suicide" or "took his life," instead of "committed suicide".

Anonymous over 10 years ago

My sincere sympathies and empathy to the family and friends. Aaron's pain is now placed with the family to try and make sense of and live with for the rest of their lives. My heart goes to his Momma and his family - hugs.


The Surviving Project

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Blaming the government for his suicide is as stupid as attributing his activism to depression fueled anger.

Either robs this young man of his agency. Please respect his dignity even in death.

And if you insist on a larger message let it be this: mental illness can be a terminal disease, and it is a potential threat to all of us.

Raghuveer over 10 years ago


mylene over 10 years ago

Whe you see his smile and know about his ethical achievements to struggle against the insjustices of corrupted institutions , we should all listen to this act of despair and ponder is there a democracy not corrupted by money , can this happen in America , could stupid laws steal the smile of your children and keep doing nothing? I share the grief of his family and friends but we are all responsible not to admit that federal prosecutors can do that in the name of justice!

Peter M over 10 years ago


Peter M over 10 years ago

OK, now that is over, this is a case (from many perspectives perhaps) that, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

John C. over 10 years ago

This tragic outcome is a tremendous loss to the human family; particularly the members with a close association; my condolences and prayers are attached.

A Mu over 10 years ago

#67 IS SO CORRECT ABOUT THAT STMT. Sad what this country has come to.

Quixote over 10 years ago

The government prosecutors who, in effect, murdered Aaron, as well as the academics who shrugged their shoulders in indifference and the various media outlets that gleefully reported on his arrest, should think carefully about the lack of proportion in our criminal justice system, and on the devastating impact it can have on the lives of talented people.

Authorities in New York have notoriously undertaken a similar assault on Internet freedom, arresting and prosecuting a blogger who sent out Gmail confessions (written in a deadpan, yet sharply humorous tone) in which a New York University department chairman appeared to be accusing himself of plagiarism. What impact will this case have on the life of the author of these satirical writings and his family? For further information on the case, see:

beatriz over 10 years ago

Found Aaron Swartz's girlfriend here, My prayers are with her and his family in Chicago.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Profits vs. People Profits win again.

Liz over 10 years ago

He downloaded scholarly articles from an open network and was threatened with 35 years of imprisonment and $1M in fines. For downloading articles freely available on a university network? From what I read at what he did was absolutely not a crime and even the closet where he put his computer is used to store the belongings of a homeless person...will MIT prosecute him as well?

It is ridiculous that MIT worked with the federal government to go so far with this prosecution of a victimless crime. If MIT is embarrassed about having such an open network that this deed could be easily accomplished, work on your own security system, don't threaten an intelligent young man with decades of imprisonment.

Geez, I don't know how MIT's legal team can sleep at night. It's absolutely disgraceful and goes against the principle that scientific knowledge should be made available to the public.

85 over 10 years ago

Hey "Jude" . . .

the Beatles sing "Don't carry the world upon your shoulder" . . . Aaron, life you haven't understood, you would have understood it would you have recognized, "the way is the aim".

Bits and bytes are even much fewer the live. You have much "unfinished" left, for a Beethoven, however, you are far too young why I can't recognize either that your life circulation was perfect.

Last but not least, if already self killing, then but for mankind. How it would be landmines clear up in Afghanistan?! The girls collecting wood for a fire being warm and for boiling, I mean those, which ones stood in the middle of life, had been grateful for you certainly.

Schutzritter (52), Good Old Germany.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

does anyone know what officials or groups at MIT were responsible for pursuing the prosecution?

Anonymous over 10 years ago

The family is rightly holding both the US Attorney's office, AND MIT responsible in part for his death. Please amend this article to reflect this. When JSTOR dropped charges against him, it was MIT refusing to do so that allowed the US Attorney's office to continue persecuting an activist.

They were asking for 30 years in jail for actions equivalent to handcuffing yourself to a shelf in the library.

Letter from Aaron Swartz' family:

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Why is it that I can't find anywhere BY WHOM he was found dead in his apartment?.. Wikipedia says 'It is reported' that he hanged himself - reported BY WHOM?

Some investigation into this death wouldn't hurt imo...

Anonymous over 10 years ago

I don't believe it. I just don't believe it. He was intelligent, caring, thoughtful. He had love in his life. He had been successful at many of his endeavors. He was young. There was hope. It just doesn't make sense. What is going on? The reports about what happened are so sketchy.

We need to support his ideas for a better world. I just joined And contributed to

YPud over 10 years ago

How very sad. If only somebody had been around to prove to him there was a better way forward and the cloud over his life wasn't going to be there forever. My condolences to Aaron's family and friends.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

There is plenty of blame to go around here. Overreaching prosecutors .sure. But if you want to play the civil disobedience game then you have to be prepared to pay the price and you dont get to set the price, the Man does. Thats the world we live in and he shoulda known that. And this was a boy whose mental stability was known to be a bit on the shaky side, apparently. Someone who might not have held up that well in prison even for a short sentence. So he (and whoever of his friends and family who knew of his plans in advance) should have thought twice before embarking on this path. His cause may have been just but it seems like he wasnt the man for this job.

There will never be a trial now to determine his guilt under the law, but downloading 5 million copyrighted documents that you dont own from a university that you dont attend with the intention of making them public has got to be some sort of crime.

Would Aaron have really been sentenced to 35 years in jail? No way. But thats how the game (which as I said before, Aaron knowingly chose to play) is played the prosecutor wildly overcharges you, your lawyers claim that you havent committed any crime at all and you end up somewhere in between. The Feds usual goal is to get you to plead guilty to some lesser offense. Apparently Aaron refused to plead guilty to ANY felony and so the Feds pressed on with their case. This goes on every day of the week in every state and the defendants dont kill themselves.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

So sad after hearing about this. Most strong and creative ones among us can sometimes fall off the cliff.

C. Scott Ananian over 10 years ago

Shame on MIT. We'll miss you, Aaron.

koly over 10 years ago

Il fallut ton dcs pour que je sache qui est derrire cet outil que j'utilise trs souvent. "Militant d'une libert sur la toile" moi je pense que t'est bien plus que cela alors repose en paix et vivement qu'une autre puisse continuer ce que tu as commenc mais dis toi qu'o tu es tes efforts n'ont pas t en vain. Pour moi tu ne t'es pas suicid c'est Dieu qui en a voulu ainsi. RIP

Anonymous over 10 years ago

RIP to this brilliant man, and my condolences go out to his family and friends.

I don't know much about him, but I know many people who were considered brilliant and were looked up to by many people who seriously contemplated suicide for various reasons. You can be strong-willed and still become depressed; it's not like it's controllable. To say that he simply "could not" have committed suicide demonstrates a vast misunderstanding of mental health. You can't be inside someone's mind and understand, especially if you've never been in that place before. What happened is tragic, but not unbelievable.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

C.scott ananian,you dare to post hate comments against mit on their website.good luck.

Danyuo Yiporo over 10 years ago

This is very sad. RIP Guru.

slamovics over 10 years ago

He was a hero.



Vince over 10 years ago

MIT -- shameful institution. His blood forever stains the reputation of this institution of "integrity", whatever that means in this day and age of hypocrisy.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Petition the Obama administration to:

Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz

Anonymous over 10 years ago

RIP Aaron

Continue his fight:

Shava Nerad over 10 years ago

I first met Aaron when we were both on a panel hosted at the MIT Museum. He was a brilliant unbelievably young man for his accomplishments. I was execdir of the Tor Project at the time -- as two online activists tilting at windmills and getting stuff done, we hit it off immediately.

What Aaron did is not so different from what I do all the time at MIT as an independent scholar at Hayden Library. Many of the subscription resources on campus are available to visitors as long as their laptops are on the campus wireless. What Aaron did was just hit Save-As a lot.

Just about every instructor in every two-bit community college does the same thing, without clearing copywrite, well beyond the limits of fair use, for copying whole papers and book chapters for class handouts. But no one prosecutes them or threatens to send them to jail for three decades.

Aaron is a modern Galileo, giving the finger to the modern established church. Galileo was put away for defying an order to not publish, not for his heliocentrism. The church didn't hesitate to burn heretics like Giordano Bruno in the public square -- they didn't disagree that the earth orbits the sun. But they'd asked Galileo not to publish his book because a rising literate intellectual class would cause issues of damage control questioning the dissonance between biblical and scientific authority. So the church put on a show trial and locked the scientist away on house arrest -- they couldn't let him win.

Aaron couldn't be allowed to win, and had probably come to realize it. The very reasons he thought he couldn't lose -- the power of his reach in social networking that allowed him to direct efforts like the SOPA/PIPA fight -- had painted him into a corner. The pitbulls had been called out.

It's possible MIT Legal hanging him out to dry was the last straw. I may show up Tuesday (I'm former staff, btw) with a sign that says "Who killed Aaron Swartz?" until I can get some answers.

Because academic politics is bad enough without being fatal. What a colossal waste.

Aaron's family is blaming us. I am ashamed.

Alex H. over 10 years ago

Certainly, MIT had the right to prosecute him, but being part of a possible 35 years for a misdemeanor? Especially a non-profit misdemeanor that was aimed towards spreading information to people? MIT should have done as JSTOR, and just refused to be part of it.

I only hope that all the other smart and visionary information age doers and thinkers will find another university to cooperate with.

We cannot really afford to lose people with that kind of competence and vision; please don't kill off any more of them. (Putting him in jail would have had the same effect - there's no point arguing that it isn't a capital punishment.)

Anonymous over 10 years ago

MIT's complicity in the prosecutorial overreach is not surprising. its record on behalf of intellectual freedom and activism is spotty but not quite shameful. with so much of its operating budget covered by government and corporate grants, it has little room to negotiate on "how high" when an agency or company says "jump". yes people get victimized, but the institute's good is preserved, i.e., administration, senior faculty, labs

Richard Stewart over 10 years ago

This young man, 50 years my junior, is a hero to me. Did he not speak out agains the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) where a US citizen can be detained indefinitely without arrest or trial with evidence of supporting terrorism? This is so sad.

Torleif over 10 years ago would not be reality without this genious.. RIP Aaron!

Anonymous over 10 years ago

figueredo over 10 years ago

The circumstances of Aaron Swartz are very tragic and offers yet another opportunity for the MIT community to seriously examine the role this institution plays in our society.

Max over 10 years ago

For all those suggesting that this was not a genuine suicide, but some act of retribution, consider that this is a man who made frequent reports in his own writing of suffering from depression. What's more, his death incites more outrage against the prosecution than his imprisonment would have. If this were some act of conspiracy, it would be one that was tremendously highly destructive to the perpetrators' purposes, even if nobody were to conclude that it was an act of conspiracy.

Aaron Swartz took his own life. That's bad enough.

Will Steadman over 10 years ago

People should read the official statement from his family. I hope the tech posts this statement with its coverage.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Sigh..why must this end this way?

Rest in peace, Aaron.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

shame the feds put so much effort in crucifying this kid, when the feds wont even indict one bankster for the crimes that are among the worst ever....

and all the morons on other sites chastising this kid, dont realize some of the code that makes comment sections work, was part of aarons, rss work. this government has run amok.

Roy Russell over 10 years ago

The family statement is clear about MIT's complicity as well in the continued unnecessary and unreasonable prosecution and persecution of Aaron.

Sukun Tarachandani over 10 years ago

Can the Tech post what the MIT's view on the whole issue was. Why did they want to prosecute him when JSTOR backe out?

Not that any explanation will justify their actions, but still.

Tommy D over 10 years ago

What a lucky guy. I do not mourn him, I celebrate him. He found his exit from hell.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

If anyone is feeling suicidal and doesn't feel comfortable talking to MIT health services, you can always call 1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are hearing or speech impaired, a TTY hotline is 1-800-799-4889 .

Anonymous over 10 years ago

MIT, your actions in Aaron's case disgust me and I am ashamed to be an alum.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Aaron's family and friends should have intervened in his life after he was charged because the US courts will eat you alive because they're so corrupt. I never knew who Aaron was but after reading his blog he was really brilliant person. Aaron was young and most likely really scared to face up 35 years in prison. May his work and spirit live on. RIP Aaron.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Aaron ... You see things and you understand. Your a wallflower.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

I fell shocked that MIT played a role in this tragedy. I thought MIT had helped this young talent against the unreasonable charge. This isn't in accordance with MIT's value of openness. Rest in peace.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Asst US Attorney Stephen P Heymann (US vs. Swartz) DOX

Anonymous over 10 years ago

it's a sick world where someone who has done so much good for the digital world with rss alone gets put on trial for simply trying to spread knowledge. This hits home because my own brother committed suicide from the pressure of the courts for a simple marijuana charge. I hope the world sees a better light, fuck it i'm gonna start it now, not another negative word about a human being is coming out of my mouth.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Wonder if he ever used this

Sunshine over 10 years ago

Aaron Swartz was not one of America's treasures. He was a burglar, and not a very bright one at that. His sophomoric, dilettantish stab at burglary had the earmarks of foolishness typical of an 8th grader. One of the first things a petty criminal learns is to get away from the scene of the crime. Impetuous Aaron made many visits to the scene of his crime. He came back even after he knew that MIT and JSTOR had detected his activity and would be looking for him.

Wouldn't an even halfway sensible person cut and run after being discovered, not return and escalate the level of intrusion?

Aaron's crime was not harmless. Besides the betrayal of the academic community, MIT pays $830,000 a year for access to JSTOR. Divided over 261 business days a year, that's $3180 a day. MIT's being disconnected from JSTOR represented a five-figure loss to MIT and/or JSTOR.

Mourn his passing if you must but don't hold him up as an exemplar of anything. He was merely a talented programmer who failed to gain the maturity usually concomitant with progress.

Miss Z over 10 years ago

I know how it feels to feel so alone that it causes a sadness and agony that is so great that you feel the only way to end it is through death. Maybe that is why Aaron killed himself. Or maybe it was for another reason. Let's not speculate any further as it is a private matter for his family to handle. I pray for them and for Aaron - he has changed the world and is much more loved than he could possibly know.

Kumar over 10 years ago

Those who are concerend about must Petition

MIT Crime Club over 10 years ago

A lot of people are happy he's dead -- but The Man isn't one of them

"He's young and idealistic. In time he will be mature enough to put his talents to better uses. The cyber threat from hostile countries is growing and we could use people like him."

Looking for a Few Good Men, Comment to "Swartz Indicted for JSTOR Theft," Tech (Aug. 25, 2011).

"The trail of his brief life shines with his brilliant creativity and idealism....

"I want to express very clearly that I [am] extremely saddened by the death of this promising young man .... It pains me to think that MIT played any role in [this] series of events ...."

Posting of Rafael Reif to MIT Cmty. (Jan. 13, 2013).


Reed elected Chairman: June 4, 2010

Swartz charged with wire fraud: July 14, 2011

Reif appointed President: May 2, 2012

Dervorguilla of Wikipedia

MtE '87

David Baker over 10 years ago

He did not live in vain and like a clean fresh breeze God will replace him.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Why are reports of his death/suicide so sketchy? Why is it that nowhere it is reported 'by whom' his body was discovered?..

Mark over 10 years ago

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz is widely believed to have larger political ambitions, as a Latina tough law-and-order Democrat.

If she ever runs for anything, I will follow her around with a sign reading "CARMEN ORTIZ - WANTED FOR MURDER." I know many from the Boston-Cambridge academic communities who have said they will do likewise, along with others who have pledged to come over from Cornell, and from as far west as Stanford and Berkeley.

Robert K.Yaes over 10 years ago

My greatest regret is that I only learned about the Aaron Swartz case after his untimely death. I have thus been deprived of the privelege of having contributed to his legal defense fund. If only the federal prosecutors had dewmonstrated equal zeal in going after those subprime mortgage bankers who stole billions from ordinary people

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Does it really matter whether the government blows you to bits with a helfire misssile from a preditor drone or drives you to suacide? In the end you are just as dead. This is not a time for sadness but rather a time for indignation and anger. To quote Joe Hill, "Dont mourn. organize"

Anonymous over 10 years ago

STUPID Fellow! Taking his own life won't solve anything! Why can't some people just understand it?!

jihn gilberg over 10 years ago

I guess he just couldn't hack it, dont do the crime if you cant do the crime.........

Anonymous over 10 years ago

MIT has at this point lost any hope it had of getting donations from me in the future. Our administration has deviated so far from the principles for which this institution ostensibly stands -- both with respect to its own students and third parties -- that I consider it counterproductive to support them.

Rest in peace Aaron. We will carry on this cause.

kay sieverding over 10 years ago

I think DOJ tried to get me to commit suicide. I don't have a criminal record and wasn't charged w a federal offense. DOJ simply locked me up three times for 5 months total with no charge, no evidentiary hearing, and no bail hearing. Then they opposed my seeking an evidentiary hearing after the fact.

I'm an MIT graduate also and I think that gave me courage to stand up to DOJ.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

you are loved see you again

AnonyMouse over 10 years ago


Anonymous over 10 years ago

I shall be be in the group that will follow Carmel Ortiz around with a sign reading "CARMEN ORTIZ - WANTED FOR MURDER", for she was very uncompromising in her demand for a guilty plea.

Another prosecutor chose not to bring charges against Swartz when hew broke the law and opened up a government site.

Brian over 10 years ago

Yea, there was an anonymous person who attacked Aaron in his post. You are a bag of garbage for doing it anonymously!

Bonnie Britt over 10 years ago

Aaron Swartz was among the most courageous and admirable of his generation. As Edward Tufte said at the memorial service of Aaron's actions in liberating academic documents: "Why isn't MIT celebrating this?"

In the words of P. Sainath, India's leading journalistic voice, "This was not suicide. It was murder by intimidation, bullying, and torment."

Anonymous over 10 years ago

MIT... can't believe you... articles? Sentence 35 years in jail for articles? Wasn't money, wasn't identity, was it so bad that you need to push Aaron to a 35 years sentence in jail? Have you ever done wrong? Have you ever taken a cookie out of the cookie jar? Should you be in jail for life? Is this the kind of things that a great name school are suppose to do? Many in the world is disappointed at you, and so am I. I can't writ any further for your action is far beyond fair. MIT, you need to go to Aaron's parents and do something for them. He who has no sin cast the first stone. Have you no sin? Aaron does not deserve a 35 years sentence.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

MIT... can't believe you... articles? Sentence 35 years in jail for articles? Wasn't money, wasn't identity, was it so bad that you need to push Aaron to a 35 years sentence in jail? Have you ever done wrong? Have you ever taken a cookie out of the cookie jar? Should you be in jail for life? Is this the kind of things that a great name school are suppose to do? Many in the world is disappointed at you, and so am I. I can't writ any further for your action is far beyond fair. MIT, you need to go to Aaron's parents and do something for them. He who has no sin cast the first stone. Have you no sin? Aaron does not deserve a 35 years sentence.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Well, it looks as if Aaron got his fifteen minutes of fame. It is sad he had to turn to criminal endeavors to achieve that distinction. And, for the record, he was never facing 35 years and a $1,000,000 fine. At best, he was facing six months in a minimum securtiy facility, a paltry sentence for the level of theft he purpotrated against the government and those academic institutions. Then, it is the government's fault he is too cowardly to even defend his actions, motives, or beliefs.

It is truly amazing how many people now believe breaking the law is acceptable on the grounds that you personally do not agree with the law. What a sad commentary on todays youth.

Leigh over 10 years ago

To the annoy coward on post 144. You do not understand depression. Depression comes from a negative thought/emotion continually reinforced by the brain until it overwhelms all rational thought. His mind would have only have been thinking of 35 years and getting out as an almost 70 year. Even with a 6month plea bargin his mind would have turned to the assaults he would suffer in jail. His brain would not have been able to rationalise that he was condemned to being beaten and raped in jail for copying papers created and paid for by tax dollars that in his mind should be free. Ortiz is indirectly responsible for his demise.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Leigh, you are mistaken as I hold a Ph.D in psychology and have been working in a school district with children and the issues they deal with for more years than you have probably been alive. Unless you had an opportunity to speak with this individual about their feelings and perceptions, you have no basis for the judgement you are making regarding his thought processes.

As to your comment on Ortiz, liberals tend to shy away from anything related to personal responsibility. Do you believe that when someone commits a socially unacceptable action, it is always someone else's fault?

Anonymous over 10 years ago

Really sorry for the death of Aaron Soul Aaron respectable family and friends to celebrate joyous and loving condolences over the White House, I hope the prosecutor would dismiss my name is Aaron R. Bojnourdi the country was for a sewer

John S. James over 10 years ago

Those who criticize Aaron as illegal or wrong should realize that journal paywalls effectively exclude about 99 of the human race from much of the world's recent science, medicine, and academic scholarship. The authors and peer reviewers almost never get any part of this ill-acquired revenue that mainly feeds excessive corporate profits. Most of the creators want their work to be accessible to more people, but usually they cannot make this happen.

And there is a good alternative available -- bundling publication with total research/scholarship cost. Less than one percent of most projects' cost including overhead could easily support free online publication available to everyone (including scholars at non-rich universities).

Nothing better illustrates the misuse of intellectual property to impose an economy of scarcity on a newly available possibility of abundance.

Anonymous over 10 years ago

How convenient for the U.S. Gov't...Hmmm....

SHADAT over 10 years ago

Sign this Whitehouse petition to make the DOJ accountable for Aaron Swartz death

SHADAT over 10 years ago

Sign this Whitehouse petition to make the DOJ accountable for Aaron Swartz death

moffat over 10 years ago

Understad the demise of Aaron Swartz hee today. Sign this Whitehouse petition now!

Neamul over 10 years ago

Please sign the Whitehouse petition to make the DOJ pay for Aaron Swartz death.

moffat over 10 years ago

Hold the DOJ accountable for the death of Aaron Swartz. Sign this Whitehouse petition now!

Catspaw over 10 years ago

Aaron Swartz, in his passing, teaches a painful lesson. There are people who will use this needless tragedy to denigrate Mr. Swartz and/or promote some personal grudge against Swartz or their own vague boogie man villains. It is shocking that this obvious genius can be attacked by some posters here or that The Tech finds some of these merit publishing. Most disturbing at numbers 35, please talk with someone, 45 sick, 55 sick, 124 should know better, 144 146 liberals? It might seem that very bright people have unique and sometimes difficult personal problems. Why is it that these few can write without sympathy and some with coarse venom about someone they never met and couldn't hold a candle to intellectually? Mr. Swartz saw the world differently and suffered a horrible death and we have all lost a sensitive and brilliant mind. It is disheartening to read how some take joy in that.

Jasmin Rice over 10 years ago

Aaron, poor soul.

Just hope that you would have stay longer in life to fight for free ACCESS to sciencific articles and free public information.

I am from developing country that paying for public articles are a pain in my pocket and stomach.

Damn the Capitalist.