Aaron Swartz and Jonathan James committed suicide in different years; surprisingly the prosecution team trying them was the same
Two of world’s most wanted hackers had committed suicide and no one still knows why. Aaron Swartz and Jonathan James, both hackers by profession and most wanted by the FBI have committed suicide in face of the federal investigation against them for hacking crimes.
Interested thing is both hackers were not connected to each other in any way but were being tried for hacking by the same department and the case was being overseen by the same Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Heymann. Could this have any hand in their suicides.
Some people close to Swartz say that it was an overzealous federal prosecution team that contributed to Aaron Swartz’s suicide. On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested by MIT police on state breaking-and-entering charges, after installing a computer in an Institute closet which he set to systematically download academic journal articles from JSTOR. Federal prosecutors later charged him with two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, carrying a cumulative maximum penalty of $1 million in fines, 35 years in prison, asset forfeiture, restitution, and supervised release.
While James was implicated in the biggest hack of personal identity case, committed suicide on May 18, 2008. Jonathan James was found dead in his shower with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His suicide was apparently motivated by the belief that he would be prosecuted for crimes he had not committed. “I honestly, honestly had nothing to do with TJX,” James wrote in his suicide note, “I have no faith in the ‘justice’ system. Perhaps my actions today, and this letter, will send a stronger message to the public. Either way, I have lost control over this situation, and this is my only way to regain control. … Remember, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether I win or lose, and sitting in jail for 20, 10, or even 5 years for a crime I didn’t commit is not me winning. I die free.”
As said above, both hackers were from different backgrounds and had been accused of doing something very different. James was accused of stealing tens of thousands of credit card numbers, while Swartz was more of a social activist. He was an advocate of free culture and an open Internet.
The question remains whether the over zealous prosecution somehow hammered the fact into both James and Swartz’ mind that they would never escape the law. Whatever the case, it seems that no one will be held responsible for both the suicides and both the hackers deaths have been to relegated to rather ignominious history.