MIT Admits Secret Role in Aaron Swartz Death

Whiteout Press

…When Aaron Swartz passed away, government agents and university officials thought the story was over. But his family, friends and former co-workers wanted to know the truth. Among them was Kevin Poulsen, Editor of He filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking for the release of all the documents relating to the government’s investigation and prosecution of Aaron Swartz.

With an alphabet soup of government agencies persecuting Swartz, Kevin Poulsen cast a vast net and sued the Department of Homeland Security. As it turned out, it was the Secret Service that had initiated the criminal investigation of Aaron Swartz in 2011 after he illegally downloaded the contents of MIT’s JSTOR university library. A sub-agency of DHS, the Secret Service none the less refused the FOIA request and insisted the government’s investigation needed to remain secret.

Two weeks ago, a federal judge ruled against the Executive Branch and ordered the Obama administration to release the documents in the Aaron Swartz case. As detailed by Poulsen and, US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled, “Defendant shall promptly release to Plaintiff all responsive documents that it has gathered thus far and shall continue to produce additional responsive documents that it locates on a rolling basis.”…

…Perhaps the most curious and surprising revelation over the past few days has been MIT University’s legal filing asking to be a party to Poulsen’s lawsuit against the Dept. of Homeland Security. But rather than join the Editor as a Plaintiff in the FOIA case against DHS, MIT voluntarily joined Homeland Security as a Defendant in the lawsuit.

After the initial surprise wore off, critics of the government’s actions began submitting their own theories. The only facts confirmed by MIT officials involved the admission by the University that it feared for the lives and safety of some of its employees and staff if the government’s files on the Swartz investigation were made public. But what could MIT staff have done in the persecution and prosecution of Aaron Swartz that was so bad that those same individuals are in fear for their lives?…


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