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US to release Aaron Swartz papers

The US attorney’s office in Boston agreed on Friday to release documents in the Aaron Swartz case, but the officials are seeking to have some specific identities and materials withheld as the legal wrangling continues in the investigation into the federal prosecution of the Internet activist.

In calling for redactions of names and materials, the office of US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz expressed concerns about the safety of individuals and organizations involved in the case.

“Whatever incremental public interest may exist in having the names and identities appear on the disclosed materials, it is far outweighed by the important interest in protecting people and organizations from retaliation, threats and harassment,” the United States wrote in the motion.


The case of Swartz, who was charged by the federal government with hacking and later committed suicide in January, has generated national controversy regarding Ortiz’s strident prosecution, as well as a cry for change to the laws on computer hacking and fraud.

Swartz was arrested in Boston in 2011 and charged with hacking into MIT’s network and downloading millions of articles from JSTOR, a large subscription-­based scholarly journal archive.

Two weeks ago, the Swartz estate filed a motion for the release of all discovery materials in the case, which are prohibited from public disclosure by a protective order. The estate was seeking to have minimal redactions to the documents, saying the protective order “hinders the public’s access to vital information about Mr. Swartz’s case without any substantial justifications.”

Lawyers with the Swartz estate could not be reached for comment Friday night.

The government, however, referenced numerous threats and attacks on involved individuals and organizations, such as a false report of a gunman on the MIT campus and an attack on the US Sentencing Commission website by hackers.

MIT and JSTOR also filed separate motions in support of the US attorney on Friday.


A Justice Department spokeswoman said Friday night that the department had no further comment on the case.

Last week, MIT announced that the university would release internal documents in the case, but would redact employee names and other identifying information.

Derek J. Anderson can be reached at derek.anderson@globe.com.