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Ear to the Ground

MIT Refused to Accept Swartz Plea Bargain, Lawyer Says

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Posted on Jan 16, 2013
Francisco Diez (CC BY 2.0)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A lawyer for Aaron Swartz—the 26-year-old programmer and open-Internet activist who reportedly committed suicide Friday under pressure from threat of prosecution—says MIT refused to endorse a deal that would have granted Swartz probation or deferred prosecution.

JSTOR, the academic paper archive from which Swartz downloaded millions of articles in the act for which he was indicted, accepted the plea bargain, said attorney Marty Weinberg. MIT owned the computer closet from which Swartz downloaded the files.

An article published by The Boston Globe suggests the prosecution, led by Massachusetts’ U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, would have accepted the deal had MIT signed off on it.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Boston Globe:

Swartz and his lawyers were not looking for a free pass. They had offered to accept a deferred prosecution or probation, so that if Swartz pulled a stunt like that again, he would end up in prison.

Marty Weinberg, who took the case over from Good, said he nearly negotiated a plea bargain in which Swartz would not serve any time. He said JSTOR signed off on it, but MIT would not.

“There were subsets of the MIT community who were profoundly in support of Aaron,” Weinberg said. That support did not override institutional interests.

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