Journalist found guilty for aiding computer hackers

Wed Oct 7, 2015 7:24pm EDT
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By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO Oct 7 (Reuters) - A California jury found journalist Matthew Keys guilty on three criminal counts related to helping members of the Anonymous hacking collective gain access to a former employer's computers, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice said on Wednesday.

Keys, 28, was indicted in 2013 for conspiracy to cause damage to a protected computer and two other counts, after being accused of giving hackers access to Tribune Co. computer systems in December 2010. Keys had just left a job at a Tribune-owned television station in Sacramento, Calif., following a dispute with a supervisor.

A story on the Tribune's Los Angeles Times website was soon altered by one of those hackers, the indictment said.

Tor Ekeland, an attorney for Keys, said he would appeal the verdict.

A spokesman for Tribune Media Co, Gary Weitman, said: "We are pleased that the justice system worked. We will let today's verdict speak for itself."

Sentencing is scheduled for January 2016. The Justice Department has not determined what sentence it will request, but it will likely be less than five years, spokeswoman Lauren Horwood said.

The verdict followed jury deliberations that lasted about a day. Prosecutors contended that Keys urged on the hackers after supplying a password.

Keys's lawyer had told jurors he was operating as a professional reporter trying to gather information about members of Anonymous, an amorphous group that often conducts multiple hacking campaigns at once.

The alleged events in the indictment occurred before Keys joined Thomson Reuters as a editor in 2012. A month after Keys was charged, he said Reuters dismissed him. A Thomson Reuters representative declined to comment. (Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Ken Wills)