Holder replied that he thought it was "a good use of prosecutorial discretion," which looked at the conduct regardless of what the statutory maximum penalties were, and "to fashion a sentence that was consistent with what the nature of the conduct was."
Following sharp criticism of her handling of the case, Ortiz said in January that prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Swartz that warranted severe punishment. "At no time did this office ever seek -- or ever tell Mr. Swartz's attorneys that it intended to seek -- maximum penalties under the law," she said in a statement.
Cornyn wrote a letter to Holder in January in which he asked, among other things, whether the prosecution of Swartz was in any way retaliation for his exercise of his rights as a citizen under the Freedom of Information Act. The letter has not been responded to yet, the senator said.
Swartz has emerged as a symbol of freedom on the Internet for activist groups. Lawmakers and activists have called for changes in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which the prosecutors in Massachusetts used to charge him.