Reuters’s Matthew Keys has been indicted for allegedly conspiring with the hacking collective Anonymous, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday. The government alleges that Keys helped Anonymous gain access to at least one of websites of the Tribune Media Company in December 2010 by providing log-in information, after he was fired from the company. The indictment, includes chat transcripts between a user named “AESCracked,” who is allegedly Keys, and “the hacker who claimed credit for the defacement of the Los Angeles Times website.” Keys is a former web producer for the Tribune Company-owned TV station KTXL FOX 40 in Sacramento, California and currently works at Reuters as a deputy social media editor. With more than 23,000 followers, Keys is known on Twitter for tweeting breaking news.
Thomson Reuters corporate affairs manager David Girardin tells Politico that the company is “investigating” Keys’s indictment. “We are aware of the charges brought by the Department of Justice against Matthew Keys, an employee of our news organization,” he continued. “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.”
Thursday evening, Keys tweeted “I am fine. I found out the same way most of you did: From Twitter. Tonight I’m going to take a break. Tomorrow, business as usual.”
In March of 2011, an account related to Anonymous tweeted: “AESCracked/Matt Keys was former producer for Tribune sites. Gave full control of LATimes.com to hackers.” That same month Keys is cited in a Gawker post about Anonymous as “a journalist who infiltrated” Anonymous. Keys’s first blog post for Reuters was about Anonymous.
Ernie Smith, editor of the Short Form Blog, where Keys was a contributor, called Keys a good friend,” and said “we’ve worked closely together for a couple of years, bouncing ideas off of one another and the whole bit. I talked to him three hours ago. [The staff and I at Short Form Blog] had no knowledge of this situation.” However, Gizmodo reports that a source who wishes to remain anonymous described an online conversation with Keys Wednesday night in which Keys said he was “pretty sure” he was going to get fired.
According to the DOJ statement, “if convicted, Keys faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for each [of the three] counts.” Keys’s arraignment is scheduled for April 2 in Sacramento.