WASHINGTON (CN) - A journalist sued the Department of Homeland Security for records on Reddit founder Aaron Swartz, who killed himself after being charged with computer fraud.
Kevin Poulsen sued the Department of Homeland Security in Federal Court.
Poulsen, of California, is a former computer hacker who became known in the early 1990s for hacking into telephone company computers to win radio station phone-in contests.
The FBI arrested him in 1991, after 18 months on the run. After serving 5 years in prison, he became a journalist, reporting on security and hacking news. He is a senior editor at Wired.com.
Poulsen claims he filed a FOIA request with the Secret Service in January, asking for records on Swartz, who hanged himself on Jan. 11.
Swartz, a computer programmer and Internet activist, founded several website frameworks, software and online groups, including the social news site Reddit.
After he sold Reddit to Condé Nast, he became a political activist, speaking against the Stop Online Piracy Act and other Internet-freedom issues.
In 2008, Swartz downloaded and released about 2.7 million federal court documents from the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database, to make them available to the public for free. The FBI decided not to press charges, because the documents were public.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology police arrested Swartz in 2011 for downloading several million academic journal articles from the digital library JSTOR. The New Yorker reported in March this year that Swartz may have wanted to analyze the articles or upload them to the Internet, but his motive remains unclear.
Swartz hanged himself after federal prosecutors charged him with two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The charges carried a cumulative maximum penalty of $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison.
Poulsen says the Secret Service refused to release records on Swartz, claiming they were exempted "since disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings."
But there are no enforcement proceedings now, as Swartz is dead.
Poulsen says he appealed, but the Secret Service gave him no response.
He wants to see the records.
He is represented by David Sobel.