Journalist convicted of aiding LA Times hackers

Journalist convicted of aiding LA Times hackers
© Getty Images

A journalist was convicted Wednesday night of helping the hacking collective Anonymous infiltrate the Los Angeles Times website to deface a story.

Matthew Keys could face up to 25 years in prison and a $750,000 fine, but government officials said they will seek a sentence of less than five years.


Keys was indicted in 2013 for conspiring to cause damage to a protected computer, transmitting malicious code and attempting to transmit malicious code.

According to government prosecutors, he posted login credentials for the Tribune Media Co. computer system to an Anonymous-affiliated forum shortly after he left a job following an argument with his supervisor at a Tribune-owned television station in Sacramento, Calif.

Hackers used the credentials to tinker with a story, changing the headline and adding lines such as “reluctant House Democrats told to SUCK IT UP.”

The article was reverted back to its original text in under an hour.

Keys insisted he was gathering information as a reporter on members of Anonymous.

Jay Leiderman, Keys’s attorney, said he will appeal.

“He shouldn’t be doing a day in jail,” Leiderman told The LA Times. “With love and respect, [The Times’] story was defaced for 40 minutes when someone found it and fixed it in three minutes. What do you want, a year a minute?”

The trial has become a focal point for digital rights groups and privacy advocates who have long argued the government’s computer intrusion laws are woefully outdated, containing huge penalties for minor online transgressions.

After the verdict Wednesday, government leaker Edward Snowden tweeted: “For defacing an @LATIMES article for 40 minutes, journo @MatthewKeysLive faces 25 years. Years.”