It was revealed in a Massachusetts courtroom on Monday that a federal prosecutor involved in the highly controversial Aaron Swartz case was targeted by a "swatting," which is the dangerous and increasingly common practice of reporting hoax emergencies in order to mobilize police SWAT teams and terrorize victims.
A 22-year-old Massachusetts man, Nathan Hanshaw, yesterday was sentenced to 30 months in prison for making a series of such hoax calls last fall. And he appears to have escaped harsher punishment by aiding a government investigation of the "swatting" of Swartz's prosecutor.
From a story in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette:
Mr. Hanshaw has already helped the government by testifying in one case involving software used to conduct "swatting" calls. He is also helping officials investigating a "swatting" call received by a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office in Massachusetts.
According to (Hanshaw prosecutor Adam) Bookbinder, that prosecutor was involved in the case against Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide in January while he awaited trial on charges he illegally downloaded millions of academic articles by using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's computer network.
Mr. Hanshaw's cooperation was one of the reasons the defense and prosecution agreed to a 30-month sentence.
While the story did not name the "swatted" prosecutor from the Swartz case and I could find no news coverage of such a crime, a likely target would be Stephen Heymann, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. Heymann's name appears on an unauthenticated list of prominent "swatting" victims that can be found online.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has yet to respond to my request for comment.
Heymann and his boss, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, were both subjected to threats and harassment amid the public uproar that ensued after Swartz's suicide, which critics have blamed on what they see as overzealous prosecution on the part of the feds.
A "swatting" incident at MIT in February has also been linked to the Swartz case.
Welcome regulars and passersby. Here are a few more recent buzzblog items. And, if you’d like to receive Buzzblog via e-mail newsletter, here’s where to sign up. You can follow me on Twitter here and on Google+ here.
- That was fast: Beckett out, Lester in, all is well.
- Geek-Themed Meme of the Week Archive.
- Yahoo has that Y3K problem under control.
- Remarkable reunion made possible by Google Earth.
- Did “The Most Interesting Man in the World” steal a ‘90s-era meme?
- Research buries Microsoft’s Bing-vs.-Google claims.
- New York Times corrects the record on Mario and Luigi.
- Judge orders patent troll to explain ‘Mr. Sham’ to jury
- Cisco can’t shield its customers from patent suits: court.
- There are tragedies and then there are sunset photos.
- Verizon worker grateful 911 operator could hear him now.
- Did you know Google could do this? I didn’t.
- “This is a 3D printed jet engine”
- 2013’s 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries