Obama Declines Petition on Aaron Swartz’s Death | Courthouse News Service
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Obama Declines Petition on Aaron Swartz’s Death

WASHINGTON (CN) - The White House said it will not fire a pair responsible for prosecuting Aaron Swartz on hacking charges before the Internet activist killed himself.

"Aaron Swartz's death was a tragic, unthinkable loss for his family and friends," the Obama administration said in its undated response this week to two petitions calling for the firing of U.S. District Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Heymann.

Ultimately, a petition response is not "the appropriate forum" to address agency personnel matters, according to the response.

The administration emphasized that Swartz's supporters still have its ear to help keep the Internet "a free and open platform as technology continues to disrupt industries."

Though the White House is obligated to respond to all petitions that garner enough signatures, a website that tracks its responses says the White House isn't always swift to respond.

Swartz was arrested in 2011 for illegally downloading journal articles from academic database JSTOR, and federal prosecutors charged him with wire fraud and violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Swartz, who faced $1 million in fines and up to 35 years in prison, committed suicide in 2013 after declining a plea bargain that would have put him in prison for six months.

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