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Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz kills self

Posted on Jan 14, 02:47PM | IBNS

Shock and disbelief greeted the world of Internet users, after Aaron Swartz, who was the mind behind the popular social news website Reddit.com and was hailed as an Internet prodigy, was found dead in his apartment Friday, with the police saying he committed suicide.

Swartz, 26, was found unconscious at 9:30 am Friday (US time) in his bedroom in the Brooklyn residence, police said. Police was first intimated by his girlfriend and partner.

His death came weeks ahead of a trial where he faced charges of stealing millions of journal articles from an electronic archive to make them available freely.

"We at reddit were saddened by the news of Aaron's passing," said the company he founded.

"Aaron joined reddit in 2006. His friends and family are sharing memories and stories on rememberaaronsw.com," said the website.

"If you feel so moved, join us in donating to Demand Progress or GiveWell in Aaron's memory so that his work for civil liberties, civil rights, and government reform can continue," said Reddit.

His family and partner also issued a statement.

"Our beloved brother, son, friend, and partner Aaron Swartz hanged himself on Friday in his Brooklyn apartment. We are in shock, and have not yet come to terms with his passing," it said.

"Aaron's insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable-these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter. We're grateful for our time with him, to those who loved him and stood with him, and to all of those who continue his work for a better world," the statement said.

"Aaron's commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge.

"He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place. His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more," said the statement.

The family said: "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 U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death."

"The US Attorney's office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community's most cherished principles," said the family.

Aaron left behind his parents Robert and Susan Swartz, two younger brothers and his partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman.

Swartz had co-authored the "RSS 1.0" specification of RSS, and built the Web site framework web.py and the architecture for the Open Library. He also built Infogami, a company that merged with Reddit in its early days, through which he became an equal owner of the merged company.

In 2010 he was a member of the Harvard University Center for Ethics. He cofounded the online group Demand Progress (best known for its campaign against SOPA) and later worked with US and international activist groups Rootstrikers and Avaaz.