The Boston Herald reports:
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s teary defense of her case against Internet prodigy Aaron Swartz showed an emotional side of the embattled prosecutor, but that won’t stop foes from using the controversy as a “weapon” against her if she pursues what appeared to be a burgeoning political career, one expert said.
“If this was a political campaign, an opponent could portray her as an uncaring and unfeeling, hardball prosecutor persecuting this poor kid to death, literally,” Boston University communications professor Fred Bayles said of Ortiz, who has come under intense fire in her case against the 26-year-old Reddit co-founder, who took his own life in his New York City apartment on Jan. 11.
“This all comes down to a question of whether she is going to be a political liability to her own future, and the answer is yes,” Bayles said. “It will be a potent political weapon and it always will be.”
Ortiz — appearing at times to fight back tears — yesterday said the case against Swartz was “fairly” and “appropriately” handled, but noted that his death has given her cause “to pause and review.”
“The family here has quite obviously suffered a terrible tragedy. I don’t think there’s an explanation I could give that possibly would make them feel better,” she said. “I am terribly upset at what has happened here, and the kind of allegations that have been made.”
Ortiz, whose name was kicked around as a possible candidate for U.S. Senate or governor, has been blasted for what critics have called an overzealous prosecution of Swartz, who was facing federal hacking charges for allegedly hacking into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology network and downloading millions of scholarly articles. Swartz’s family has said Ortiz’s prosecution played a role in his death and at least one lawmaker called the charges against Swartz “absurd.”