Members of the hacker-activist group Anonymous have broken into a US government website to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz, a proponent of freely accessible information.
Anonymous deliberately defaced the website of United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), a federal judicial agency, to protest Schwartz tragic suicide, which many believe was triggered by intimidation from the government prosecutors.
Anonymous strikes a blow
Hackers infiltrated the website of the commission early Saturday morning and replaced its content with a video denouncing the US federal prosecutors and the country's justice system.
"Two weeks ago today, a line was crossed. Two weeks ago today, Aaron Swartz was killed. Killed because he faced an impossible choice. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win -- a twisted and distorted perversion of justice -- a game where the only winning move was not to play," read the message on USSC website.
They also posted a long manifesto and a group of files named after Supreme Court Justices, which they allege contains embarrassing secrets. The group threatened leaks, declaring that the classified information would be revealed to the media if changes are not made to the American justice system.
The post warned, “The contents are various and we won’t ruin the speculation by revealing them. Suffice it to say, everyone has secrets, and some things are not meant to be public. At a regular interval commencing today, we will choose one media outlet and supply them with heavily redacted partial contents of the file.”
Swartz committed suicide
Aaron H. Swartz, 26, computer programmer and co-founder of popular media site Reddit, committed suicide in his Brooklyn, New York apartment two weeks ago. Swartz hung himself with a belt and his body was discovered by his girlfriend inside his seventh-floor unit on Sullivan Place.
The internet whiz kid was arrested in July 2011 for breaching Journal Storage (JSTOR) and allegedly downloading approximately 4 million academic journals from JSTOR with the intent to distribute them for free over P2p file-sharing site.
He was indicted by the FBI for wire and computer fraud among other offences for breaking into a secure and restricted area of MIT to hook up a laptop to get the records.
His federal trial on computer fraud charges was to begin next month. Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. His family released a statement blaming harsh treatment from the criminal justice system after his untimely death.