Last week, we wrote about Aaron Swartz's girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, releasing a statement accusing the DOJ of a variety of things that hadn't really been covered before, including lying, seizing evidence without a warrant and withholding exculpatory evidence. That resulted in an interesting discussion in the comments, in which a few DOJ defenders suggested that since there were no details, we were probably making this up (as if we don't have better things to do). Now, however, the details have come out. In a letter that was sent at the end of January (but just now leaked to the press), Swartz's lawyers highlight how Assistant US Attorney Steve Heymann was responsible for the charges above.
The key issue is the search of Aaron's laptop. Cambridge police seized the laptop on January 6, 2011. The Secret Service did not obtain a warrant until February 9, 2011, even though it had clearly been involved since before the arrest and was leading the investigation. Swartz's legal team, quite reasonably, argued that the evidence from the laptop should be suppressed due to the massive delay in obtaining the necessary warrant. Heymann hit back that it was the Cambridge Police who had the laptop, so the Secret Service had nothing to do with it until it got the warrant. There was a court hearing about all of this, and Heymann again insisted that the Secret Service had no responsibility until after the warrant.