Justice drops charges against Swartz after activist kills himself

The Justice Department dropped its charges against Internet activist Aaron Swartz on Monday, citing his death.

Swartz, who was facing computer hacking charges, hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment on Friday. He was 26.

The filing is standard when the defendant in a case has died. 

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Federal prosecutors indicted Swartz in 2011, accusing him of breaking into a computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading 4.8 million documents from JSTOR, a subscription service of academic articles.

He faced up to 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. His trial was scheduled to begin in April.

Swartz was an accomplished programmer and activist who argued that more online information should be free to the public.

In a statement on Saturday, Swartz's family blamed overzealous prosecutors for driving him to take his own life.

"Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach," the family said.


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