Hacktivist movement Anonymous has hijacked the US Sentencing Commission website as a personal vendetta to retaliate against the justice system that threatened to imprison web activist Aaron Swartz, who recently committed suicide, for decades.
The website was hacked early Saturday and a message was placed saying that “a line was crossed” when Swartz killed himself two weeks ago.
“Two weeks ago today, Aaron Swartz was killed. Killed because he faced an impossible choice. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win — a twisted and distorted perversion of justice — a game where the only winning move was not to play,” the statement read.
Anonymous now threatens to release secret information that they have reportedly copied from several governments’ computer systems they were able to access.
The hackers also put up their video statement and a list of files named after US Supreme Court justices on the hacked website.
Earlier, Anonymous gained access to MIT’s website and the Department of Justice, DOJ.gov website, using distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to avenge the passing of Swartz.
Aaron Swartz, who co-founded both the website Reddit and the activism organization Demand Progress, was due to appear in federal court during the coming weeks because the United States says he illegally downloaded millions of academic papers from the website JSTOR, presumably for public distribution, while logged onto the computer network of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If convicted, Swartz could have been sentenced to upwards of 35 years in prison and a US$1 million fine.
The 26-year-old Harvard fellow openly discussed his bouts with depression in the past, but Swartz’s parents and advocates alike have suggested that a serious legal fight that has dominated the activist’s life in recent years played a role in his passing.
In a statement published shortly after his death, the activist’s family said, “Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”