Life Inside the Aaron Swartz Investigation

A reluctant witness's account of a Federal prosecution. If you haven't been following the case, start with the editor's note for context.
Quinn Norton's grand jury subpoena (Quinn Norton).
Once your life is inside a federal investigation, there is no space outside of it. The only private thing is your thoughts, and even they don't feel safe anymore. Every word you speak or write can be used, manipulated, or played like a card against your future and the future of those you love. There are no neutral parties, no sources of unimpeachable wisdom and trust.
The lawyers tell you: take no notes.
The lawyers tell you: talk to no one.
It is the loneliest of lonely things to be surrounded by your loved ones, in danger, and forced to be silent.
May you never experience a Federal investigation. I did, and it consumed me, and changed every day that will come after it for the rest of my life.
It all began with a call from Aaron Swartz on a jail-room phone. This essay is my attempt to explain what happened between that call and my friend's suicide. This will not be the final word on Aaron's story, nor is it intended to be.
Two years later, these are the events as I remember them, and the feelings as I knew them.

By Quinn Norton

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