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Whoa: Did Reuters' Matthew Keys help Anonymous hackers?; Updated

Well, this is interesting.

Keys, Reuters’ deputy social media editor, was indicted today for allegedly conspiring with Anonymous to hack into and alter a Tribune Company website, according to a Justice Department release:

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The incident in question apparently took place before Keys was working with Reuters:

https://twitter.com/eliotnelson/status/312302058298544129

Wow.

https://twitter.com/b_fung/status/312302307356340224

 Keys was employed by Sacramento-based television station KTXL FOX 40, as its web producer, but was terminated in late October 2010.

The three-count indictment alleges that in December 2010 Keys provided members of the hacker group Anonymous with log-in credentials for a computer server belonging to KTXL FOX 40’s corporate parent, the Tribune Company.  According to the indictment, Keys identified himself on an Internet chat forum as a former Tribune Company employee and provided members of Anonymous with a login and password to the Tribune Company server.  After providing log-in credentials, Keys allegedly encouraged the Anonymous members to disrupt the website.  According to the indictment, at least one of the computer hackers used the credentials provided by Keys to log into the Tribune Company server, and ultimately that hacker made changes to the web version of a Los Angeles Times news feature.

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The indictment further alleges that Keys had a conversation with the hacker who claimed credit for the defacement of the Los Angeles Times website.  The hacker allegedly told Keys that Tribune Company system administrators had thwarted his efforts and locked him out.  Keys allegedly attempted to regain access for that hacker, and when he learned that the hacker had made changes to a Los Angeles Times page, Keys responded, “nice.”

According to the DOJ release, if Keys is convicted, he could face up to ten years in prison, three years of supervision, and a $250,000 fine for each count.

Guess Twitchy is now the least of his problems.

https://twitter.com/hunterw/status/312307522377768960

We will continue to monitor this story and update with developments.

***

Update:

National Journal’s Brian Fung has more on the potential punishment:

https://twitter.com/b_fung/status/312306742434349058

Yikes.

More:

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Keys was evidently “outed” as a co-conspirator by an Anonymous hacker in 2011:

https://twitter.com/lachlan/status/312305672547102720

https://twitter.com/anonymouSabu/status/50036860407386112

https://twitter.com/samfbiddle/status/312311082440073216

Ironically, Keys debut post with Reuters dealt with Anonymous leaking an FBI call:

He also wrote an article about Sabu, the Anonymous hacker who had named him as an accomplice:

And now:

https://twitter.com/samfbiddle/status/312313138655666176

***

Update:

Keys claimed that he and Sabu had their last conversation in January 2011. Sabu sent this tweet to Keys in January 2012:

https://twitter.com/anonymousabu/status/157503616863842304

While there is no indication that Keys replied, it’s certainly somewhat eyebrow-raising.

***

Update:

Reuters, Keys’ employer, has issued a statement on the case to Politico.

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“We are aware of the charges brought by the Department of Justice against Matthew Keys, an employee of our news organization,” David Girardin, the corporate affairs manager for Thomson Reuters, told POLITICO. “Thomson Reuters is committed to obeying the rules and regulations in every jurisdiction in which it operates. Any legal violations, or failures to comply with the company’s own strict set of principles and standards, can result in disciplinary action. We would also observe the indictment alleges the conduct occurred in December 2010; Mr. Keys joined Reuters in 2012, and while investigations continue we will have no further comment.”

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