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Journalist accused of helping Anonymous found guilty on hacking charges

He could face up to 25 years in prison.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Posted on Oct 7, 2015   Updated on May 27, 2021, 8:28 pm CDT

Matthew Keys, a former Los Angeles Times and Reuters journalist, was found guilty Wednesday on federal hacking charges for providing unauthorized access to the Times website to members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous, reporter Sarah Jeong wrote.

Prosecutors said Keys turned over his username and password to the Times website to a member of Anonymous in an IRC chatroom and then “encouraged” action. The member changed a news story to a joke. The joke remained on the site for 30 minutes before the page was taken down.

For those 30 minutes, the Tribune Company argued it endured about $1 million in losses, according to Jeong.

Here’s what the hacked site looked like:

L.A. Times

Keys faces a minimum punishment of probation and a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. According to Jeong, prosecutors will seek less than five years.

Hanni Fakhoury, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argued when Keys was first charged that even if Keys was always unlikely to face the full 25 years, the massive possible sentencing itself is an intimidation tool often deployed by prosecutors against defendants.

Keys, through his Twitter account, responded to the jury’s findings.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20, 2016. Through his lawyers, Keys said he is going to appeal.

Photo via banspy/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 

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*First Published: Oct 7, 2015, 8:42 pm CDT