Harvard ethics fellow Aaron Swartz accused of hacking MIT computer network

Aaron Swartz

(CBS/AP/WBZ) BOSTON - A Harvard University fellow studying ethics has been accused of using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's computer network to steal nearly 5 million academic articles.

No, we didn't make it up.

A federal indictment released Tuesday accuses 24-year-old Aaron Swartz of stealing the documents from JSTOR, a subscription service that offers digitized copies of articles from more than 1,000 academic journals.

Prosecutors say Swartz hacked into MIT's system between September and January after breaking into a computer wiring closet on campus. The indictment says Swartz was a fellow at Harvard's Center for Ethics at the time. Prosecutors say he intended to distribute the articles on file-sharing websites.

Swartz, co-founder of the non-profit political action group "Demand Progress," was released on $100,000 unsecured bond after pleading not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday to charges including wire fraud. He faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

"Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in the statement, according to CBS affiliate WBZ.

Prosecutors say, at this point, it appears no personal information was stolen in the thefts.