Hacker group Anonymous briefly disrupted a website of the US Justice Department Saturday, threatening to divulge confidential files in retaliation for the suicide of an internet activist who had been facing criminal charges, DPA reported.
Swartz, 26, was found dead January 11 in Brooklyn. At the time of his death, he was facing federal charges of wire fraud and theft of information that could have resulted in a 35-year prison sentence.
Many activists for freedom of online information found the charges against Swartz too severe, noting that the crime merely related to an attempt to distribute academic material usually only accessible for a fee.
Saturday's attack by the group upon the USSC website was explained as a kind of revenge for the prosecution against Swartz, who created the popular online bulletin board Reddit.
The group briefly replaced the USSC's regular front page with a letter in green text on a black background, in which it noted that hackers had accessed secret data within the US Justice Department and would distribute it to the media unless the US revamps its sentencing laws to make them, the group argued, more fitting to the crime.
"Suffice it to say, everyone has secrets and some things are not meant to be public," read the group's letter. "We have not taken this action lightly, nor without considering the possible consequences."