Aaron Swartz Prosecutor Releases Statement, Which Gets Deservedly Shredded

by
Abby Zimet

A week after his suicide, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz has defended her prosecution of Internet activist Aaron Swartz as "appropriate," despite charges from his family and legal observers that it was so harsh, vindictive and unjustified it contributed to his death. Many blame Ortiz, who had a reputation for toughness and was reportedly insisting on prison time, for abusing an already  seriously flawed plea bargain system that allows prosecutors to threaten massive "possible" punishments to effectively force someone into pleading guilty without trial. More on our larger failure, as a legal system and a culture, to protect Swartz and those like him. A sad story all around.

"Thanks in part to this kind of coercion, more than 90% of defendants waive their right to a jury trial. For the majority of defendants, then, the plea bargaining process is the justice system. As a result, prosecutors wield an immense amount of power with very little accountability."

   "We can rightly judge a society by how it treats its eccentrics and  deviant geniuses—and by that measure, we have utterly failed....Today, prosecutors feel they have license to treat leakers of information like crime lords or terrorists. In an age when our frontiers are digital, the criminal system threatens something intangible but incredibly valuable. It threatens youthful vigor, difference in outlook, the freedom to break some rules and not be condemned or ruined for the rest of your life."

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Share This Article

More in: