A collective of hackers known as Anonymous commandeered a Department of Justice website Saturday to protest what it called the harsh treatment by government prosecutors of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide this month.
The hackers replaced the site's content with a video denouncing the government and praising the 26-year-old co-founder of Reddit, who hanged himself two weeks ago as his trial date for allegedly hacking into an MIT computer network neared. Swartz, who was accused of illegally downloading academic articles, faced up to 30 years in prison.
Swartz had long promoted open access of information on the Web.
Anonymous said it deliberately hacked the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s website to call attention to “the federal sentencing guidelines which enable prosecutors to cheat citizens of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair trial.”
FOR THE RECORD:
Sentencing commission: In the Jan. 27 Section A, an article about Internet activists hacking into the U.S. Sentencing Commission's website described it as a Department of Justice site. The commission is not part of the Department of Justice; it is an independent agency in the judicial branch of government. —
The FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response Services branch put out a statement Saturday: “We were aware as soon as it happened and are handling it as a criminal investigation. We are always concerned when someone illegally accesses another person's or government agency's network.”