Aaron Swartz would have been 36 by now.
The US state attempted to sentence him to 35 years in prison for transferring and sharing scientific articles from JSTOR. He was not convicted, he died. The state had incited his suicide.
Enabling access to knowledge was one of his main goals in life, as confirmed by many projects he undertook:
He and his colleagues started a digital library in 2007 openlibrary.org with the goal of becoming an open catalogue of all works that have ever been published. More than 2.5 million books are freely available on it today.
He helped with the development of RSS and Markdown and Creative Commons licensing, all of which today plays a central role in the creation and distribution of content on the Internet.
Aaron is also recognized as one of the co-founders of the Reddit network and is one of the authors of the Guerilla Manifesto for free access (pc. if/gmanzof).
Swartz also fought for transparency and against corruption and censorship. In addition to coordinating protests and actions against internet censorship, he set up a platform SecureDrop securedrop.org which enables anonymous and safe communication for whistleblowers.
Federal prosecutors wanted to make an example out of his case, so despite the lack of evidence they wrote an indictment demanding 35 years in prison and 1 million dollars in fines.
He was not convicted, days after prosecutors rejected his answering contract offer, Aaron died, they had killed him.

We would have sought to raise awareness of what was done to Aaron Swartz and initially didn’t include this next bit but, the seriousness of our situation means we can’t afford not to, given we genuinely feel that what they did to him is analogous to the situation we are in.
We implore every one of you to learn about the state retaliation we have been facing, it almost achieved with Rosa what they managed to do to Aaron less than a week ago. Had they been successful there they’d have finished me too, I can’t do this without her.
To learn more visit weareintolerant.online, search for #weareinnocent posts and please get in touch if somehow you still can’t choose a side.
We done talking to cops (to the limited extent we ever did) but will absolutely answer any question you ask.


Please consider, in the future, to use the phrase "died by suicide", rather than "committed suicide".

The latter phrase is suggestive of a criminal, or immoral act, such as "committed robbery", or "committed adultery".

The prior phrase uses terminology that better emphasizes that the individual is a victim, comparing to phrases such as "died by gunshot", or "died by drowning".


discussion of suicide 

@danjones000 @weareintolerant Dan, I understand your concern. I agree, as well, that Aaron was a victim. I would say, though, that he was a victim of state persecution. The phrase you suggest, "died by suicide," simply takes away his agency. Is that your intent? That his suicide was out of his control (due to mental illness or other factors)?

If the intent is to remove agency, we could also say he died by hanging. That seems to miss the point, though.

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discussion of suicide 

@danjones000 In the past, when I've referred to Aaron's death, I've gone the other direction. I might say, "What the government was doing to him must have been too much to face, and he killed himself."

I guess I don't like the phrase "committed suicide" either, but for different reasons. It sounds clinical, distant. While I agree that Aaron was a victim, I guess I think that great value comes from being honest and direct about the reality and horror of the situation.

discussion of suicide 


My intent is purely to avoid a suggestion of any judgement. I don't believe that @weareintolerant was judging Aaron, but the phrase sounds as if it's issuing a judgement, and could color others' reactions.

We can't know exactly what went through his mind. We can't know what internal struggles led to the suicide.

"Death by suicide" may not be the best phrase in every circumstance, but it doesn't carry the baggage that "committing suicide" does.

discussion of suicide 

@kenneth @weareintolerant

Many people look at suicide as a selfish act. Those who have survived suicide, or at least managed to avoid it, know that that's rarely the case. Usually suicide is the result of an illness, in the same way that AIDS is the result of HIV.

Even if it's not (as this case may not be), it's still usually the result of pressures outside the victim's control.

By avoiding terminology that sounds accusatory, we can reframe that in others' minds.

discussion of suicide 

@danjones000 @kenneth
Okay quite obviously we are not judging Aaron. If you read thread you’ll see that we were almost killed by state repression inciting our suicides just last week I apologise. I do understand the objection to the phrasing but this was not an originally authored post. Sorry for that also, but considering what we are being put through by the state, I hope it can be understood that we don’t really have the energy to dedicate as much time to detail and everything in our advocacy, for other cases that, despite what we’re going through, we still want to raise the profile of and in truth is important for us to do so, in getting people to understand what the state is prepared to do, and believe therefore that they are doing it to us I am sorry for the mistakes in this post that have been pointed out in his comments but this is why like many people we’ve only learnt about this terrible injustice today.

Okay, also my hands are actually crippled. This is Rosa by the way and so I’ve had to use text to speech on this and a I don’t have the energy right now to edit it for grammar and things like that and again I’m sorry but yeah I’m just I can’t right now I’m sorry

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