Members of the House Oversight Committee are asking questions about the suicide of Aaron Swartz, an Internet pioneer and political activist, via a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, according to the Huffington Post. Swartz, 26, was fighting charges of Internet hacking by the federal government when he took his own life earlier this month. He had endured two years of federal investigating before reaching the end.
The letter was written to Holder was written by the leading member of the Republican and Democratic Parties on the committee: Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat Elijah Cummings. Technological and criminal justice experts have been extremely critical of the pressure put on Swartz who could have received 35 years in prison if he were convicted of hacking academic journal articles as charged. Ultimately, Swartz had legal access to all of the articles he allegedly downloaded, but he was accused by the feds of violating the database terms of service by downloading too many at one time.
The bipartisan partnership of Issa and Cummings in this case is challenging the United States’ Justice Department’s handling of Swartz’ case by requesting a briefing to be held within a week. Issa wants the possibility of having over-prosecuted Swartz to be investigated as that, according to Issa, is a method used to get people to plead guilty rather than risk sentencing in an allegedly criminal case.
Besides the politicians and their committees, many in the field of technology want the case investigated thoroughly.
This past weekend, Anonymous - the politically-motivated Internet hacking group - hijacked the United States Sentencing Commission's governmental web site in response to Swartz' suicide in relation to his past interrogation.