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White House Petition to Fire Boston AUSA Over Swartz Probe Lags

Posted By Mary Jacoby On January 28, 2013 @ 7:53 pm In News | Comments Disabled

A petition [1] filed with the White House to fire Boston Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann over the Aaron Swartz investigation has garnered more than 10,500 signatures, but remains more than 14,000 signatures short of the threshold to elicit a formal administration response.

Petitioners have until Feb. 11 to meet the required 25,000 signatures to get a White House response.

A similar petition [2] calling for the removal of Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz over the Swartz investigation now more than 40,700 signatures, after it quickly surpassed the 25,000 signature threshold days after it was filed on Jan. 11.

Swartz was the open Internet activist and coding prodigy who was found dead on Jan. 11 in a suicide his family has blamed on pressure from Ortiz’s office to plead guilty to a hacking charge.

Swartz was charged in 2011 for allegedly attempting to download the contents of JSTOR, a massive online database of academic journals and articles. He faced 35 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine, though Ortiz was reportedly ready to settle for six months. JSTOR had asked that charges not be filed against Swartz, the co-founder of RSS and Reddit.

Heymann was the prosecutor assigned to the case. He is the son of former Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann, who served druing the Clinton administration.

Meanwhile, hackers associated with the group Anonymous broke into the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, replacing its homepage with a video in which a “creepy computerized voice spouted pompous pseudo-revolutionary threats,” as Slate described [3] it. Later, after the site was restored, hackers distributed code via social media accounts so that visitors could turn the Sentencing Commission’s homepage into an active game of Asteroids, allowing them to fire at graphics and text on the site until a Gay Fawkes mask was revealed under them.


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