In an email from Demand Progress sent out yesterday, it was revealed he had been facing legal trouble since around the time of the organization's inaugural petition in 2010.
According to Demand Progress, this legal pressure "weighed heavily on him throughout the last two years, and certainly more so of late," chalking it up to an "institutionally corrupted criminal justice system."
[Demand Progress's full statement about Aaron Swartz can currently be seen on the website's home page.]
Swartz's family and partner seem to feel the same about his death. In their official statement on Swartz's memorial website, they pull no punches pointing towards his legal persecution as the culprit for his suicide.
Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.
Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death. The U.S. Attorney's office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims.
Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community's most cherished principles.
Aaron Swartz was a renown Internet activist who helped defeat last year's Internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA through Demand Progress's online petitions.