The White House has shied away from backing two petitions which called for the firing of federal prosecutors in the Aaron Swartz case.
The “We the People” petitions sought to remove U.S. District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office (as evidenced by 61,179 e-signatures), as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Heymann (28,964 e-signatures) for their “overreach.”
Prior to his suicide nearly two years ago, Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison after being accused of accessing Massachusetts Institute Technology’s network to steal academic papers for free distribution. The handling of the case inspired calls for reform to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), criticized by many for being outdated and heavy-handed.
In an official response, the White House called Swartz’s death “tragic,” but said its response to the petitions “must be limited,” and that it “will not address agency personnel matters in a petition response.”