Department of Justice

Swartz Prosecutor Defends Actions

Claims she never would have asked for maximum sentencing

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The U.S. attorney for Massachusetts said her office's handling of the prosecution of Internet activist Aaron Swartz was appropriate and rejected claims that her staff drove him to suicide with the threat of decades in prison.

In her first public comments since Mr. Swartz hanged himself last week, Carmen Ortiz said her prosecutors never intended to press for the three-and-a-half decade prison sentence Mr. Swartz could have received for allegedly using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's computer network to download nearly five million academic-journal articles from a database that charged for access.

She said they told Mr. Swartz's lawyers they would seek a sentence of six months "in a low-security setting" if he pleaded guilty.