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Congress Demands Justice Department Explain Aaron Swartz Prosecution

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, and ranking minority leader Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) wrote in their Jan. 28 letter that it appeared that prosecutors had intentionally bulked up the felony counts against Swartz in order to increase the amount of time in prison he would face.

On July 14, 2011, federal prosecutors charged Swartz with four felony counts, including wire fraud, computer fraud, theft of information from a computer and recklessly damaging a computer. Then on Sept. 12, 2012, prosecutors filed a superseding indictment with thirteen felony counts.

“It appears that prosecutors increased the felony counts by providing specific dates for each action, turning each marked date into its own felony charge, and significantly increasing Mr. Swartz’s maximum criminal exposure to up to 50 years imprisonment and $1 million in fines,” thelawmakers wrote in their letter(.pdf). […]

In addition to wanting to know what influenced the Justice Department’s decision to prosecute and whether Swartz’s advocacy work played a role in that decision, the lawmakers want the Justice Department to tell them why the superseding indictment was necessary after Swartz had already been charged. They also want to know how the criminal charges and plea offer compared to those in other cases brought under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, under which Swartz was charged.

More Aaron Swartz.

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