The hacktivist group Anonymous defaced the web site of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for its role in the events that led to the suicide of online activist Aaron Swartz.
The cyber attack, as reported by Cnet, came just hours after MIT president Rafael Reif said the school would investigate MIT’s involvement in the events that led to the prosecution of Swartz, a Reddit co-founder who killed himself on Friday. He was arrested in July 2011 and accused of hacking MIT’s network in order to download almost 5 million documents from JSTOR, an archive of scientific journals and academic papers. If convicted, he could have faced $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison.
Swartz committed suicide, the Wall Street Journal reports, just days after prosecutors refused to accept a plea bargain that didn’t include jail time.
The Anonymous message (posted above) said that the government’s prosecution of Swartz, whether it contributed to his suicide or not, was a “grotesque miscarriage of justice, a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for — freeing the publicly funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it.”
Anonymous called for a reform of computer crime laws, copyright and intellectual property laws, and a renewal of a commitment to a “free and unfettered internet.”