The co-founder of social news website, Aaron Swartz, has committed suicide at the age of 26.

He was found dead in his Brooklyn, New York apartment on Friday (11Jan13), just weeks before he was due to stand trial over claims he hacked into a digital archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and stole articles.

He was charged with 13 felony counts of wire and computer fraud, among others, and was facing heavy fines and up to 35 years behind bars. The case was due to be heard in February (13).

A statement from his family reads, "Aaron's commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. 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."

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Swartz has also been credited with developing the software behind RSS Feeds, which help publishers disseminate information across the web. was sold to chiefs at Conde Nast Publications in 2006.