By Joseph Menn and Dan Levine ,Reuters
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal grand jury has indicted Matthew Keys, deputy social media editor at Reuters.com, for conspiring with members of the Anonymous hacking collective to break into the computers of his former employer, Tribune Co. The alleged incident occurred before he joined Thomson Reuters Corp., the indictment filed on Thursday indicated.
The indictment charged Keys with three criminal counts, including conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer. The indictment said that he promised to give hackers access to Tribune Co. websites and that a story on the Tribune’s Los Angeles Times website was later altered by one of them.
Keys did not respond to requests for comment. But several hours after the indictment was handed down, he tweeted: “I found out the same way most of you did: From Twitter. Tonight I’m going to take a break. Tomorrow, business as usual.” His attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment. A Thomson Reuters spokesman said the company was aware of the indictment and added: “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.” The company did not comment on Keys’s employment status. However, a Thomson Reuters employee at the New York office where Keys worked said that his workstation was being dismantled and that his security pass had been deactivated. The documents in the case paint a picture of a disgruntled former Tribune employee who fell in with some of the most notorious hackers in the country — and then worked with them, as well as against them. The case began in early December 2010, when Fox 40, a Tribune-owned television station in Sacramento, California, received emails saying someone had claimed to have an internal list of employees, according to an affidavit for a search warrant submitted by Los Angeles-based Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Gabriel Andrews.