The social media editor of the Reuters news service has been charged by US authorities with conspiring with the Anonymous group to hack into the Los Angeles Times’ computers and alter a story.
Matthew Keys allegedly gave Anonymous login details to computer networks belonging to Tribune Co, which owns the LA Times and a Sacramento news station that he was made redundant from two months earlier, in 2010.
26-year-old Keys allegedly told Anonymous to “go f*** some s** up” after he was let go from FOX station KTXL, where he had been working as a web producer. According to the federal grand jury indictment handed down in Sacramento, a hacker named only as ‘Sharpie’ altered a Times news story so the headline read ‘Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337’ in December 2010.
The indictment also included an instant message conversation between Sharpie and Keys, in which they appear to discuss the hack.
In the conversation, Sharpie says: “That was such a buzz having my edit on the LA Times.”
Keys, from New Jersey, is charged with one count each of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer, as well as transmitting and attempting to transmit that information. If convicted, the New Jersey native faces a combined 25 years prison and a $500,000 fine if sentenced to the maximum for each count.
In what appears to be a reference to his charge, Keys posted a status on his Facebook page today that read: “I’m fine, and everything will be okay.”
The Chicago-based Tribune Co is yet to comment.
Keys is scheduled for an arraignment hearing in Sacramento federal court on 12 April.
The indictment comes on the heels of recent hacks into the computer systems of two other US media companies that own The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Both newspapers reported in February that their computer systems had been infiltrated by China-based hackers, likely to monitor media coverage the Chinese government deems important.