Reuters social media editor charged with conspiring with hackers

Matthew Keys

Updated 7:50 p.m. ET

The deputy social media editor of Reuters news service was charged by a district court in California with conspiracy for leaking information about one of his former employers to Anonymous, the hacking collective.

The Department of Justice accuses Matthew Keys, 26, of providing Anonymous with log-in information to a computer server belonging to the Tribune Company in December 2010. Keys worked for Sacramento-based television station KTXL FOX 40, owned by the Tribune Company, as a web producer until he was terminated in October 2010.

"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," the DOJ press release reads.

The indictment also alleges that Keys conversed with a hacker who took credit for breaking into the Los Angeles Times website, also owned by the Tribune Company, in which Keys responded "nice." When the hacker allegedly said the Tribune Company locked him out, Keys allegedly tried to regain access for him.

"Let me see if I can find some other users/pass[words] I created while there," Keys allegedly said in a chat with the hacker.

A couple of hours after the news broke, Keys tweeted the following to his over 23,000 followers:

Keys faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for each count if he is found guilty.

A spokesman for Reuters said they are aware of the charges against their employee, but held back from commenting on the matter.

"Thomson Reuters is committed to obeying the rules and regulations in every jurisdiction in which it operates," the spokesman said. "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."

A spokesman for the Tribune Company declined to comment.

Keys was hired by Reuters in January 2012 and has won awards for his breaking news coverage on social media.

The below correspondence, released by the Department of Justice, is allegedly between Matthew Keys, using the screenname "AESCracked," and the hacker, using the screen name "sharpie."

The entire indictment can be seen here.

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