Aaron Swartz, 26, an internet activist, who created an early version of the web feed system RSS and news sharing system Reddit, was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the city's chief medical examiner, which ruled the death a suicide by hanging.
Over the years, Swartz also became an online icon for helping to make a mountain of information freely available to the public, including an estimated 19 million pages of federal court documents from the PACER case-law system.
Swartz faced trouble in July 2011, when he was indicted by a federal grand jury of wire fraud, computer fraud and other charges related to allegedly stealing millions of academic articles and journals from a digital archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
According to the federal indictment, Swartz used MIT's computer networks to steal more than 4 million articles from JSTOR, an online archive and journal distribution service.
Swartz, who pleaded not guilty, faced 35 years in prison if convicted. His trial was scheduled to start later this year.