Reddit Co-Founder Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide, Family Blames the Prosecutors

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By Jenalyn Villamarin | January 14, 2013 11:59 AM EST

Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz committed suicide at his Brooklyn apartment on Friday night, the New York medical examiner confirmed.

Family of the 26-year-old technology genius is now blaming the prosecutors because Swartz's tragic death happened before his scheduled trial next month with the US fraud charges filed against him.

In 2011, Aaron Swartz was able to access computer networks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He downloaded 4.8 million scientific journals then made the online contents free and available to the public. According to US federal officials, Swartz gained control over a utility closet on campus with the use of a false account signed into JSTOR which is the subscription service MIT uses.

Swartz, who also worked with the Australian groups GetUp!, pleaded not guilty. However, he will be put in jail up to 35 years if found guilty of his fraud and stealing crimes. His family in Chicago expressed in their resentment with the federal prosecutors working on the Massachusetts fraud case.

In the family's released statement on Saturday, it read: "Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death."

"I would always remember him as a young man who looked at the world and had a certain logic in his brain and the world didn't necessarily fit in with that logic, and that was sometimes difficult," Michael Wolf, Aaron Swartz's uncle, stated.

According to The New York Times, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz stated: "Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar and whether you take documents, data or dollars."  Ortiz could not be reached at the moment to give any comment about the tragedy.

Aaron Swartz has been dedicated in making online content easily accessible to the public. As a teenager, he became co-founder of the social news web site Reddit and helped in creating RSS which is a family of web feed formats utilized to collect updates from blogs, news headlines, audio and video for internet users.

"We need a better sense of justice. The question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a 'felon'," Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig wrote. Professor Lesig is also the faculty director of Safra Center for Ethics where Aaron Swarts was once an associate.

Also, Professor Susan Crawford of the Cardozo School of Law in New York described Aaron Swartz as a complicated prodigy. "Greybeards approached him with awe. Aaron built surprising new things that changed the flow of information around the world,'' Crawford declared.

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