The fiancée of Aaron Swartz, the US political activist and computer prodigy who was found hanged in his New York apartment earlier this year, says he was far from being depressed in the days leading to his suspicious death.
In an interview with the British weekly The Observer, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman said that Swartz had proposed to her only a month before his death.
Kauffman said Swartz had always been ambiguous about marriage during their 18-month friendship.
“He said, sort of out of the blue, in the context of some conversation: ‘Maybe we should get married?'” she said.
“I was just so shocked. I asked: ‘Where did that come from?’ because he had never expressed anything positive about the idea of marriage before,” Stinebrickner-Kauffman noted.
In the immediate aftermath of his death, Stinebrickner-Kauffman decried what she called an unfair prosecution that had brought intolerable pressure on the man she loved.
“I’ve read a lot about depression and it just doesn’t sound like Aaron,” she said.
“He didn’t have an absence of joy. He didn’t have an absence of human emotion… I think he was in a lot of pain. A lot of it was to do with the case. I don’t think he would have killed himself if it weren’t for the case, put it that way’” she stated.
The 26-year-old activist was found dead in his apartment in Brooklyn, New York City, on January 11.
Swartz died weeks before he was scheduled to face a trial on accusations of hacking a website and downloading millions of academic papers.
Brooklyn’s chief medical examiner ruled the death a ‘suicide by hanging,’ but no further details were available about the mysterious death.
Last year, Swartz openly criticized Washington and the Tel Aviv regime for launching joint cyber attacks against Iran.
He was also critical of President Barack Obama’s “kill list,” a list of individuals who are suspected of terrorism by the US and are listed for targeted killing after final approval by the US president himself.
Swartz was also widely credited for co-authoring the specifications for the Web feed format RSS 1.0 (Rich Site Summary) at the age of 14. RSS is designed to deliver content from sites that change constantly, such as news pages, to users.
He was critical of the monopoly of information by corporate cartels and believed that information should be shared and available for the benefit of the society.
“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves,” Swartz wrote in an online “manifesto” in 2008.
Based on that belief, the computer prodigy founded the nonprofit group DemandProgress.
The group launched a successful campaign to block a 2011 bill in the US House of Representatives called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Had it been approved, the bill would have allowed court orders to restrain access to some websites considered to be involved in the illegal sharing of intellectual property.
DemandProgress argued that the thwarted SOPA would have broadly authorized the US government to censor and restrict legitimate Web communication.