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Carmen Ortiz

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OFA demands the firing of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz

The top Republican and top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee sent a joint letter late Monday to Attorney General Eric Holder posing pointed questions about the prosecution of Internet pioneer and political activist Aaron Swartz.

Swartz committed suicide this month after fighting federal hacking charges for two years. The letter from Issa and Cummings is the first clear bipartisan response to Swartz's prosecution, heavily criticized by computer and criminal justice experts as unwarranted and excessive. Swartz would have faced up to 35 years in prison if convicted of hacking charges stemming from mass downloads of academic journal articles from the online database JSTOR. Although Swartz had legal access to all of the articles, he was accused of violating the database terms of service by downloading so many at once. JSTOR had opposed his prosecution.

Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney, Under Fire Over Suicide Of Internet Pioneer Aaron Swartz

petition urging President Barack Obama to fire U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz for prosecutorial overreach in her office's case against Aaron Swartz had garnered more than 10,000 signatures in the few days since the open-democracy advocate's death. A leading academic has also called for an independent inquiry into her office's conduct.

Swartz, an Internet pioneer, took his own life on Friday at the age of 26, after fighting federal hacking charges for two years.