Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, 26, took his own life in his Brooklyn apartment on January 11. The technology activist was mourned four days later at Central Avenue Synagogue in Highland Park, Chicago.

At the memorial, Aaron’s girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, said (via the Chicago Tribune), “Aaron wanted so badly to change the world. He wanted it more than money. He wanted it more than fame.”

Taren continued, “When things are hard and he said it is the important things that are hard, you have to lean into the pain. With his trial and what he is facing the last two years, he finally fell into the pain.”

At the time of his death, Aaron had been embroiled in a two-year battle with Justice Department attorneys in Massachusetts over allegations that he’d used MIT’s computer network to download millions of academic articles from the archive JSTOR “without authorization.” His case was set to go to trial in the coming months, and if found guilty, he was facing up to 35 years in jail and a $1 million fine.

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves,” he wrote in a 2008 manifesto (via the Washington Post). “We need to take information … and share [it] with the world.”

This uniquely brilliant standard-bearer of Internet freedom will be missed, and our hearts go out to the loved ones he’s left behind.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Slate, Washington Post