Prosecutor in Aaron Swartz case targeted by ‘swatting’

Man convicted in different ‘swatting’ case reportedly helping with investigation

swat

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.

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