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GNU founder Richard Stallman resigns from MIT, Free Software Foundation

Calls to fire Stallman grew after his comments about victims of Jeffrey Epstein.
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Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU Project a free software foundation, spoke at Commons Fest 2015 in Athens about free software and threads to freedom through technology. Pacific Press via Getty Images

After reports revealed the lengths undertaken by some at MIT to accept donations from convicted sex offender and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito resigned. Now, computer scientist Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU operating system and author of an associated manifesto that pushed the idea of free software, has stepped down from his position with MIT's CSAIL and as president of the Free Software Foundation.

This comes after growing calls for his removal, most recently tied to Stallman's statements in an MIT email thread about Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre, and what he called the "injustice" of claiming she was assaulted by Marvin Minsky. MIT alum Selam Jie Gano posted about the emails on Medium, and shared redacted copies with Motherboard. According to Stallman, the teenager could have been presented as "entirely willing," while also arguing over the use of terms like rape or sexual assault to describe the situation.

A few days ago Stallman posted on his blog "I've learned to understand how sex with a child can harm per psychologically," followed by another note late Monday evening:

16 September 2019 (Resignation)
To the MIT community,

I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT. I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.

Richard Stallman

As for the Free Software Foundation, it issued a statement that said: "On September 16, 2019, Richard M. Stallman, founder and president of the Free Software Foundation, resigned as president and from its board of directors. The board will be conducting a search for a new president, beginning immediately. Further details of the search will be published on fsf.org."

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