The Reddit cofounder whose suicide sparked the anger of thousands of Internet activists — and even spurred some lawmakers to action — has increasingly drawn the prosecutors who went after him into an uncomfortable limelight. In her latest move, Aaron Swartz’s partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, directs supporters to a White House petition calling on the Obama administration to fire Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Heymann, one of the lawyers involved in Swartz’s case:
- Heymann saw Aaron as a scalp he could take. He thought he could lock Aaron up, get high-profile press coverage, and win high-fives from his fellow prosecutors in the lunchroom. Aaron was a way of reviving Heymann’s fading career. Heymann had no interest in an honest assessment of whether Aaron deserved any of the hell he was being put through.
- I believe that Heymann is guilty of prosecutorial misconduct on several levels, but I can’t prove it until we have a proper investigation. Among other things, many of the court documents that Aaron’s lawyers have access to that would help make that case are currently under protective order. Not, to be clear, to protect Aaron — Aaron’s family and I want the documents to be public. It’s the prosecutors whose interest is served by keeping the documents secret.
The petition for Heymann’s firing already has more than 13,000 signatures — more than over half the number required for an official response under White House guidelines (the threshold has since been raised to 100,000 signatures). “Fire Attorney Steve Heymann before his reckless prosecutions claim any more lives,” the document reads.
A similar petition to remove Heymann’s superior, U.S. District Attorney Carmen Ortiz, has more than double the number of requisite signatures.