NEW YORK (AP) — The family of a Reddit co-founder who committed suicide weeks before he was to go on trial on federal charges that he stole millions of scholarly articles is blaming prosecutors for his death.
Aaron Swartz hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment Friday night. The 26-year-old had fought to make online content free to the public and as a teenager helped create RSS, a family of Web feed formats used to gather updates from blogs, news headlines, audio and video for users.
In 2011, he was charged with stealing millions of scientific journals from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an attempt to make them freely available.
He had pleaded not guilty, and his federal trial was to begin next month. If convicted, he faced decades in prison and a fortune in fines.
Swartz's family in Chicago says "Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach."
Elliot Peters, Swartz's defense attorney, says the case "was horribly overblown" because Swartz had "the right" to download from JSTOR, a subscription service used by MIT that offers digitized copies of articles from more than 1,000 academic journals.
According to a blog post of his in 2007, Swartz apparently struggled at times with depression.