Posted on January 21, 2013 by Jean
Published: 21 January, 2013, 23:27
Aaron Swartz (Reuters / Noah Berger) and Julian Assange (Reuters / Luke MacGregor)
In a series of tweets, WikiLeaks disclosed that deceased Internet
activist and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz may have contributed to the
organization and had even been in contact with Julian Assange.
WikiLeaks said it was divulging this information “due to the investigation into the Secret Service involvement with #AaronSwartz.”
Swartz, who committed a suicide on Jan. 11, was arrested two years ago
for breaking and entering into an MIT storage closet and accessing an
Acer laptop that he programmed to download millions of scholarly
articles from the JSTOR database. The Secret Service took charge of the
Swartz investigation two days before his arrest and provided the
prosecution with information that led to its harsh pursuit of the
While it is unclear why WikiLeaks decided to disclose Swartz’s
involvement with the document archive organization, some have suggested
that the alliance may have prompted the US Attorney’s Office and the
Secret Service to pursue Swartz more harshly.
WikiLeaks confirmed that Swartz was in contact with its founder,
Julian Assange, and indicated that he might have been one of their
“Aaron Swartz assisted WikiLeaks #aaronwartz,” read the first tweet.
“Aaron Swartz was in communication with Julian Assange, including during 2010 and 2011,” the second one said.
“We have strong reasons to believe, but cannot prove, that Aaron Swartz was a WikiLeaks source. #aaronswartz”
The Verge’s Tim Carmody published an article in which he suggested
that Swartz may have killed himself while defending WikiLeaks, but the
organization called that position “a little far-fetched.”
“The aim of these tweets could be to imply that the US Attorney’s
Office and the Secret Service targeted Swartz in order to get at
WikiLeaks, and that Swartz died still defending his contacts’
anonymity,” wrote Carmody.
But because WikiLeaks has an anonymous user base, the organization
only suspects that Swartz was a source, but does not know for certain.
The reasons behind WikiLeaks’ disclosure of a possible source are still
unclear. The organization does not usually reveal any of its sources,
but when questioned by a CNET reporter, WikiLeaks representative
Kristinn Hrafnsson confirmed that the tweets were authentic.
The disclosure of Swartz’s potential involvement might have been the
first time that the organization revealed one of its sources.
“We can not provide details about the security of our media
organisation or its anonymous drop box for sources because to do so
would help those who would like to compromise the security of our
organisation and its sources,” the organization states on its website. “What
we can say is that we operate a number of servers across multiple
international jurisdictions and we we do not keep logs. Hence these logs
can not be seized. Anonymization occurs early in the WikiLeaks network,
long before information passes to our web servers. Without specialized
global internet traffic analysis, multiple parts of our organisation
must conspire with each other to strip submitters of their anonymity.”
Hrafnsson said he could not elaborate on the meaning of the tweets at
the current time, but said CNET could contact him again later with