An MIT internal review of the events leading up to the prosecution and suicide of Aaron Swartz has been blasted a ’’whitewash’’ by his partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, and Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig said it raises new questions about prosecutorial overreach.
On her Tumblr account, Stinebrickner-Kauffman released the following statement:
MIT’s behavior throughout the case was reprehensible, and this report is quite frankly a whitewash.
Here are the facts: This report claims that MIT was “neutral’’ — but MIT’s lawyers gave prosecutors total access to witnesses and evidence, while refusing access to Aaron’s lawyers to the exact same witnesses and evidence. That’s not neutral. The fact is that all MIT had to do was say publicly, “We don’t want this prosecution to go forward’’ – and Steve Heymann and Carmen Ortiz would have had no case. We have an institution to contrast MIT with – JSTOR, who came out immediately and publicly against the prosecution. Aaron would be alive today if MIT had acted as JSTOR did. MIT had a moral imperative to do so.
And even now, MIT is still stonewalling. Wired reporter Kevin Poulsen FOIA’d the Secret Service’s files on Aaron’s case, and judge ordered them to be released. The only reason they haven’t been is because MIT has filed an objection. If MIT is at all serious about implementing any reforms to stop this kind of tragedy from happening again, it must stop objecting to the release of information about the case.
Lessig, a long-time friend and mentor to Swartz, wrote that he needed more time to study the 182-page report, but that he was already troubled by the report’s finding that MIT never found Swartz’ intrusions as “unauthorized.’’
“If indeed Aaron’s access was not ‘unauthorized’ — as Aaron’s team said from the start, and now MIT seems to acknowledge — then the tragedy of this prosecution has only increased,’’ Lessig wrote.