MIT, which had extensive contact with the U.S. Attorney's Office in order to deliver large volumes of technical and other information under the rules of discovery, does acknowledge in the report it was less responsive to requests from the Swartz legal defense team.
MIT "could have done more for the defense," the MIT report states. "For example, it could have automatically supplied the defense with a copy of every document supplied to the prosecution, rather than waiting for a defense subpoena. Similarly, it could have offered a defense interview with every employee interviewed by the prosecution. The choice not to do this was based on a judgment that the criminal process was sufficiently fair, without the need for it to provide equality of outcome."
MIT says by October 2012 the relationship with the Swartz legal defense team had become strained, with the defense suggesting "alleged wrongdoing and illegal conduct on the part of MIT," while the role of the prosecution "included rebutting any such allegations." MIT calls this an "asymmetry" that altered "MIT's general stance toward true procedural neutrality."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last March defended the government's handling of the Swartz case, saying "there was never an intention for him to go to jail for longer than a three, four, potentially five-month range." Swartz had rejected the government's plea offers because they included jail time, the MIT report states.
Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.