On Monday, the U.S. Secret Service released the first 104 pages of documents that detail the agency’s involvement in the investigation of free-information activist Aaron Swartz. The documents, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the Secret Service’s Boston office had collected documents and electronic devices confiscated during a search of Swartz’s home and office at Harvard University.
Swartz, 26, committed suicide in his Brooklyn apartment in January while facing charges that he had hacked into a Massachusetts Institute of Technology database of scholarly articles with the intent of making them available for free. If convicted, Swartz, an activist and co-founder of Reddit, would have faced decades in jail and millions of dollars in fines.
Critics of prosecutors in Swartz’s case condemned authorities for trying to make an example of Swartz. His family called his suicide “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”
The newly released, heavily redacted documents also detailed a number of interviews with Swartz’s friends and colleagues that the agency conducted alongside local police. Included in the documents was an interview with a San Francisco woman who alleged that Swartz had called her and asked her to contact his lawyer to secure his bail.
Kevin Poulsen of Wired, who filed the FOIA request, estimates that the Secret Service has up to 14,500 documents relating to the case that the agency will release on a rolling basis.