Documents released show the secret service was interested in a document Swartz penned calling for open information.
The first batch of secret service documents about Aaron Swartz has been released amid a legal battle to publicly share the 14,500 pages the government has amassed in its investigation of the internet activist.
A report of his suicide, evidence documents and a memorandum of an interview with an unidentified acquaintance are included in the 104-page cache published by Wired’s Kevin Poulsen on Monday.
Swartz was federally indicted on 13 charges including computer fraud, theft of information and wire fraud for downloading 4m articles from the JSTOR database through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer network. He was facing up to $1m in fines and 35 years in jail for these charges when he killed himself in January.
The documents show that the secret service was interested in a document penned by Swartz and others calling for open information – the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. Some, including a congressional aide, believe this document was used to establish “malicious intent” in the government’s case against him.
A considerable portion of the documents are evidence logs detailing the equipment seized by the government or handed over by Swartz, including computers, storage equipment and earnings statements from Google and Harvard University.