Power-Twitterer and Reuters deputy social media editor Matthew Keys has been indicted by the Justice Department. He stands accused of “conspiring with members of the hacker group ‘Anonymous’ to hack into and alter a Tribune Company website.”
A journalist handing over his ex-employer’s log-in info to Anonymous, combined with the fact that the vandalized “Tribune Company website” happens to have been the homepage of the Los Angeles Times, is so juicy that overworked assistants all over Hollywood are probably cobbling together pitches to turn Keys into the next Bradley Manning.
Before Reuters, Mr. Keys worked as a web producer for the Tribune Company-owned TV station KTXL FOX 40, in California. The DOJ says that in December 2010, after being “terminated” by Fox 40, he:
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 indictment, uploaded by the Huffington Post, has even more gory details. The feds say Mr. Keys burrowed into the IRC back channels of Anonymous with the nickname “AESCracked” and handed them information on a silver platter:
Defendant MATTHEW KEYS then told the unidentified individuals that he was a former employee, proceeded to give them a username and passowrd, and told to “go fuck some shit up.”
When the hacker reported back with a mission accomplished:
sharpie: that was such a buzz having my edit
sharpie: on the LA Times
Meanwhile, our old friend Sabu pretty much outed Mr. Keys back in 2011, but no one noticed:
— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) March 14, 2013
It’s actually frighteningly easy to commit a computer offense that could land you in the clink. But it won’t hurt the DOJ’s narrative that Mr. Keys has tweeted things like:
Tribune Company thanked employees for four years of talent, made no mention of dozens of employees laid off (or quit) during bankruptcy.
— Matthew Keys (@TheMatthewKeys) December 31, 2012
Anonymous has weighed in, blaming Sabu for snitching:
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) March 14, 2013
Mr. Keys faces counts of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer, transmitting information to damage a protected computer and attempted transmission of information to damage a protected computer.
Update, 5:45 pm: Guess Mr. Keys knew what was coming. Gizmodo reports that just last night, he told a friend he suspected his days at Reuters were “numbered,” though he said it was “just a feeling.”
Update, 3/15: Thomson Reuters offered the following statement:
“We are aware of the charges brought by the Department of Justice against Matthew Keys, an employee of our news organization. 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.”