Will Secret Service release its Aaron Swartz files to all requesters?

WIRED wins FOIA suit for investigative docs

Written by Shawn Musgrave

In the wake of Aaron Swartz’s suicide, transparency activists and journalists filed FOIA requests en masse for the documents surrounding his investigation by federal authorities. Many of these requests were for documents even Swartz himself was unable to obtain through MuckRock while he was alive, since his case was still open.

WIRED editor Kevin Poulson has gone toe-to-toe with the Secret Service for its investigative files on Aaron. It was Secret Service agents who investigated Aaron in 2011 for bulk downloads from JSTOR. Despite Swartz’s death and subsequent closure of the US Attorney’s investigation, the Secret Service rejected Poulson’s request on law enforcement grounds, as it also answered to several other requesters.

After filing an administrative appeal and then a lawsuit for release of the file, Poulsen has won a considerable victory for transparency. Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the Secret Service to release documents on a rolling basis, giving the agency until August 5 to draw up a timetable for releasing the full file.

MuckRock users submitted two requests to the Secret Service for documents on Aaron Swartz. Neither request has been acknowledged or answered by the Secret Service, despite regular followups. Now that the agency has been ordered to release its files, it remains to be seen whether requesters beside WIRED will also receive the documents simultaneously. Follow the requests here and here as MuckRock continues to pursue records from Swartz’s investigation.

The first partial released has been embedded below.


Image via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0