House Committee asks Attorney General for briefing on Aaron Swartz prosecution concerns

Aaron Swartz (flickr)

US Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) already let it be known that he would be looking into whether federal prosecutors had gone overboard in their prosecution of Aaron Swartz, and now he's following through on that promise. In a letter today from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, both Issa and fellow Representative Elijah Cummings asked US Attorney General Eric Holder for a briefing about the decision by federal prosecutors to bring charges against Swartz. "Many questions have been raised about the appropriate level of punishment sought by prosecutors for Mr. Swartz's alleged offenses," the letter reads, "and how the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, cited in 11 of 13 counts against Mr. Swartz, should apply under similar circumstances."

The letter goes on to ask for further information on seven different points, including what spurred the decision to prosecute Swartz, what plea offers had been made to him, and if any evidence had even been uncovered that Swartz had committed "hacking violations" beyond the downloading of articles from JSTOR.

Issa isn't the only politician to use the Swartz situation to call for action — and garner political attention — but his letter is notable in that he has gained the support of fellow committee member Cummings. If the pair can convince the rest of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, it could lead to formal hearings on the matter. Given that one of the seven questions asked in the letter is whether Swartz's opposition to SOPA (or his online advocacy efforts in general) played a part in the decision of federal prosecutors to go after him, it doesn't appear Issa and his colleagues will be letting up anytime soon. The letter requests the briefing happen by Monday, February 4th at the latest.

The Verge
Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.