Prosecutor Stephen Heymann has been blamed for contributing to Swartz’s suicide. Back in 2008, young hacker Jonathan James killed himself in the midst of a federal investigation led by the same prosecutor.
One of the prosecutors in the case of the online pioneer who killed himself this weekend, Aaron Swartz, was accused in 2008 of driving another hacker to suicide.
Some of Swartz’s friends have accused Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Heymann of contributing to Swartz’s suicide, with his unwillingness to compromise on the prosecution of Swartz in a case involving scholarly journal articles.
Back in 2008, another young hacker, Jonathan James, killed himself after being named a suspect in another Heymann case.
James, the first juvenile put into confinement for a federal cybercrime case, was found dead was two weeks after the Secret Service raided his house as part of its investigation of the TJX hacker case led by Heymann — the largest personal identity hack in history. He was thought to be “JJ,” the unindicted co-conspirator named in the criminal complaints filed with the US District Court in Massachusetts. In his suicide note, James wrote that he was killing himself in response to the federal investigation and their attempts to tie him to a crime which he did not commit:
“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,” he wrote, “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.
Heymann received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for “directing the largest and most successful identity theft and hacking investigation and prosecution ever conducted in the United States.”