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Internet activist Aaron Swartz celebrated at Capitol Hill gathering

Posted by Your Town  February 5, 2013 10:09 AM

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Members of Congress, internet activists and friends gathered Monday on Capitol Hill to honor and remember internet activist Aaron Swartz, according to published reports.

Huffington Post reported that the event "served as a memorial service attended by high-profile lawmakers, academics and activists angered by Swartz's prosecution on federal hacking charges. Such an event is extraordinarily rare in the Capitol complex, especially one honoring a private citizen whose suicide has made him a symbol of federal prosecutorial power.''

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) spoke at the event, as did Reps. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) also attended, according to Huffington Post.

WBUR also covered the event and quoted Swartz's father, Bob, who said his son was focused on one goal.

“He wanted to make the world a better place,” Bob Swartz said, according to WBUR. “For this he was hounded to his death by the government. Aaron was sensitive and fragile, but he was thrown into a system that is cruel and vindictive.”

The 26-year-old Swartz hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment last month.

Swartz was a prodigy who as a young teenager helped create RSS. He co-founded the social news website Reddit and directed the political action group Demand Progress that campaigns against Internet censorship.

In 2011, he was arrested in Boston and charged with stealing millions of scientific journals from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After the death, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz came under fire by critics who said she had overreached in seeking to prosecute Swartz. She has defended her action as appropriate.

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