MIT has released a report that details the Institute’s involvement in the case of Aaron Swartz, the computer programmer who committed suicide in January 2013. The report, “MIT and the Prosecution of Aaron Swartz,” describes MIT’s actions and addresses whether the Institute should have been more actively involved.
In a July 30 letter, President L. Rafael Reif thanks Professor Hal Abelson PhD ’73 and his panel for the thorough analysis of the events.
“The review panel’s careful account provides something we have not had until now: an independent description of the actual events at MIT and of MIT’s decisions in the context of what MIT knew as the events unfolded. The report also sets the record straight by dispelling widely circulated myths. For example, it makes clear that MIT did not ‘target’ Aaron Swartz, we did not seek federal prosecution, punishment or jail time, and we did not oppose a plea bargain.”
The 182-page report was directed by Abelson with support from Professor emeritus Peter Diamond PhD ’63, former assistant U.S. attorney Andrew Grosso, and assistant provost Andrew Douglas Pfeiffer.
The report’s findings are based on a review of approximately 10,000 pages of documents and interviews with approximately 50 MIT community members, lawyers, police officers, prosecutors, and friends and family of Swartz.
MIT News summarized the report and noted several key findings:
- MIT did not request federal charges be brought against Swartz and was not consulted about its opinion about appropriate charges or punishment.
- MIT was not involved in any plea negotiations, and was never asked — by either the prosecution or the defense — to approve or disapprove of any plea agreement.
- From early on in the prosecution, MIT adopted a position of neutrality.