Internet activist Aaron Swartz’s father told his son’s suburban Chicago funeral that the Reddit co-founder was “killed by the government.”
The 26-year-old Aaron was found dead in his New York apartment Friday. His funeral was Tuesday morning at a Highland Park synagogue. Swartz was facing a potentially lengthy prison sentence after being indicted in Boston in 2011 for allegedly gaining access to academic articles from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The charges carried a maximum penalty of decades in prison.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that his father, Robert Swartz, echoed the family’s previous statements during the service, saying his son was “hounded” by the government.
Spokeswoman Christina DiIorio-Sterling in Boston says U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz has no comment about Robert Swartz’s remarks.
Swartz was only the latest face of a decades-old movement in the computer science world to push more information into the public domain. His case highlights society’s uncertain, evolving view of how to treat people who break into computer systems and share data not to enrich themselves, but to make it available to others.
“There’s a battle going on right now, a battle to define everything that happens on the internet in terms of traditional things that the law understands,” Swartz said in a 2012 speech about his role in defeating the internet copyright law known as SOPA. Under the law, he said, “new technology, instead of bringing us greater freedom, would have snuffed out fundamental rights we’d always taken for granted.”