By Dan Levine and Joseph Menn
SAN FRANCISCO, March 15 (Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp suspended with pay a deputy social media editor for Reuters.com who has been indicted on charges he aided members of the Anonymous hacking collective, a company spokesman said on Friday.
Matthew Keys, 26, was indicted on Thursday by a federal grand jury in Sacramento, Calif., on three criminal counts. The alleged events occurred before he joined Thomson Reuters, the indictment indicated.
New York attorney Tor Ekeland said that he has been hired to represent Keys and that his client “maintains his innocence.”
Ekeland said that he is assembling a legal team and that Keys “looks forward to contesting these baseless charges.”
On Friday, Keys exchanged tweets with some well-wishers on Twitter, telling one of them: “I‘m okay.”
Thomson Reuters spokesman David Girardin confirmed Keys’s suspension on Friday but declined additional comment. Keys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The indictment accused Keys of giving hackers access to Tribune Co computer systems in December 2010. A story on the Tribune’s Los Angeles Times website was soon altered by one of those hackers, the indictment said.
Court filings said Keys had worked for a Tribune-owned television station in Sacramento, operating its Twitter and Facebook feeds. A Federal Bureau of Investigation agent said in a search warrant application that a former colleague told the agency that Keys had been terminated in October 2010.
Keys joined Reuters in New York in January 2012. As deputy social media editor, he promoted stories through Twitter and other means. He lives in Secaucus, New Jersey, the Justice Department said.
Keys wrote on a personal blog and on a Reuters blog that he had previously obtained access to an elite group of hackers, including one known as Sabu. Sabu, later identified as Hector Xavier Monsegur, became an informant, court records show. Monsegur was publicly identified last year and has pleaded guilty to participating in multiple hacking conspiracies. He is awaiting sentencing.
Ekeland represented alleged AT&T iPad email hacker Andrew Auernheimer, aka “Weev,” who was convicted last November on hacking conspiracy and identity fraud charges.
Keys is scheduled to be arraigned on April 12 in Sacramento, according to the court docket.
The case in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, is United States of America v. Matthew Keys, 13-82.