A federal jury in California convicted former Reuters Deputy Social Media Editor Matthew Keys of conspiring to help the hacktivist group Anonymous hack into the Los Angeles Times and alter information on its website.
Keys was found guilty of conspiracy to make unauthorized changes to the website, transmitting malicious code, and attempted transmission of malicious code, according to the Department of Justice. Court documents showed that Keys granted access to an individual associated with Anonymous and used a VPN to hide his identity.
“Although he did no lasting damage, Keys did interfere with the business of news organizations, and caused the Tribune Company to spend thousands of dollars protecting its servers,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said in a statement Wednesday. “Those who use the Internet to carry out personal vendettas against former employers should know that there are consequences for such conduct.”
Keys will be sentenced in January 2016. He faces up to 25 years in prison, although prosecutors say they won’t seek to put him behind bars for more than five years. He could also get probation.
After he was found guilty Keys tweeted, “5 years. 10 years. 25 years. Don’t argue about the potential sentence. It’s all absurd given what was alleged.”
Keys wrote on his personal website in April that he had been fired from Reuters after he was indicted. “While my suspension was related to the indictment, it’s unclear if my firing had anything to do with it,” Keys wrote on his website. “The company mentioned the suspension several times, but they did not mention the case nor did they mention the indictment.”
He is now managing editor at Grasswire, a news aggregator backed by Peak Ventures and Peterson Ventures. Grasswire co-founder Levi Notik wrote a blog post on Thursday about Keys’ trial. Grasswire has no concerns about Keys’ integrity, Notik wrote. “He will remain employed at Grasswire as the judicial process runs its course.”