Aaron Swartz was facing 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
For downloading some academic papers from a server at MIT.
In 2008, Swartz downloaded and released about 2.7 million federal court documents stored in the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) database managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
According to state and federal authorities, Swartz used JSTOR, a digital repository, to download a large number of academic journal articles through MIT's computer network over the course of a few weeks in late 2010 and early 2011
Note that he was arrested for the second act on January 6, 2011 by MIT police.
Swartz was instrumental in the campaign to prevent passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which sought to combat Internet copyright violations but was criticized on the basis that it would have made it easier for the U.S. government to shut down web sites accused of violating copyright and would have placed intolerable burdens on Internet providers.
I note that the last person of his stature to die by hanging in New York City was Mark Lombardi, the artist who made intricate diagrams of the connections between the Bush and Bin Laden families and got them shown in the Guggenheim Museum.
To me, it's just as likely Swartz, like Lombardi, was murdered by someone who is skilled at staging murders to look like suicide by hanging.
Federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann charged Swartz with 13 felony counts, despite the fact that both MIT and JSTOR had chosen not to pursue civil litigation; he faced 35 years' imprisonment and a $1 million fine.
Let it never be forgotten that MIT, specifically its president L. Rafael Reif, did absolutely nothing to offer support to Swartz, who was a fellow a Harvardís Berkman Center for Internet & Society.