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Petition to remove Swartz prosecutor gets total needed for review

Aaron Swartz
Aaron SwartzAP / file

A petition asking the White House to remove the federal prosecutor in the Aaron Swartz case now has nearly 29,000 online signatures, more than enough to require a response from the administration in the tragic case.

Swartz, 26, who helped create RSS as a teen, reportedly took his own life last Friday, and his death has sparked outrage as well as sadness. 

A passionate advocate for making as much information public as possible on the Web, Swartz was under indictment by the federal government on charges of wire fraud and computer fraud.

In an attempt to provide free access to JSTOR, a subscription service for science and literacy journals on MIT's network, he downloaded nearly the entire library of 4.8 million articles and documents to make it publicly available, according to The New York Times.

The case was dismissed Monday by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz because of Swartz's death, as is custom when a defendant dies before a court verdict. But angry fans and sympathizers filed an online petition with the White House, seeking Ortiz's ouster, from office "for overreach" in the Swartz case.

While it is "too late to do anything for Aaron Swartz," the petition says, the prosecutor who "used the powers granted to them by their office to hound him into a position where he was facing a ruinous trial, life in prison and the ignominy and shame of being a convicted felon" for "an alleged crime that the supposed victims did not wish to prosecute" should be ousted.

An Obama administration initiative called "We the People" says that staffers will respond and consider taking action on any issue that receives at least 25,000 online signatures within 30 days. The Swartz petition received nearly 29,000 online signatures as of Tuesday morning; the petition itself was created last Saturday.

Now, it is up to the White House to review the petition and decide if it will take action. 

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This story was updated at 3 p.m. ET