MIT releases report on Aaron Swartz case, finds ‘no wrongdoing’ on its part

MIT, instead, adopted a “position of neutrality,” according to the report, privately communicating to the prosecutor’s office that Swartz did not deserve jail time, but not advocating publicly for any outcome in the case.

In an eMailed statement, Swartz’s partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, said she disagreed with the report’s findings, calling MIT “reprehensible” and its report a “whitewash.”

“This report claims that MIT was ‘neutral,’ but MIT’s lawyers gave prosecutors total access to witnesses and evidence, while refusing access to Aaron’s lawyers to the exact same witnesses and evidence,” she said. “That’s not neutral.”

If MIT had reacted to Swartz’s alleged crime in a way similar to JSTOR, which came out against the prosecution publicly, Stinebrickner-Kauffman said, then Swartz would still be alive.

“MIT had a moral imperative to do so,” she said.

Charlie Furman, campaign manager for Demand Progress, the activist organization Swartz founded in 2010, said the report was a “disappointment” and that it failed to fully represent MIT’s critics. Like Stinebrickner-Kauffman, Furman disagreed with the report’s conclusion that MIT had remained “neutral” during the prosecution.

“It seems like the really brilliant minds at MIT cannot grasp that logical legal procedures would have saved Aaron’s life,” he said. “If they had said publicly ‘we don’t want this to go forward,’ there would have been no case. Failure to speak when you have the power to change the outcome, that’s not neutral. That’s complicit.”

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