Mike Isaac

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WikiLeaks Alleges Relationship With Web Activist Aaron Swartz


Photo: Rubra/Ars Electronica (Creative Commons)

WikiLeaks, the organization that collects and publishes sensitive information from anonymous leakers the world round, claimed on Friday an affiliation with Aaron Swartz, the Internet rights activist who committed suicide last week.

The disclosure came in a series of tweets from the official WikiLeaks Twitter account, one of the few main outlets the organization uses for external communications.

“Due to the investigation into the Secret Service involvement with #AaronSwartz we have decided to disclose the following facts (1-3),” the first of four tweets read. The second: “Aaron Swartz assisted WikiLeaks #aaronwartz.” The third: “Aaron Swartz was in communication with Julian Assange, including during 2010 and 2011.” And the final tweet: “We have strong reasons to believe, but cannot prove, that Aaron Swartz was a WikiLeaks source. #aaronswartz”

Elliot Peters, Swartz’s attorney before his death, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the extent of Swartz’s relationship with WikiLeaks remains unsubstantiated, the allegations come in the wake of public outcry over the Department of Justice’s decision to prosecute Swartz to the fullest extent of the law. U.S. Attorneys Carmen Ortiz and Steve Heymann sought heavy penalties against Swartz if he did not plead guilty to charges of computer fraud, wire fraud and others. Swartz faced upward of 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

The fact that WikiLeaks decided to out its connection with Swartz, as was first noted by The Verge, could suggest that part of the DoJ’s and Secret Service’s investigation and prosecution of Swartz had to do with ties to the famed whistle-blowing organization.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”