Matthew Keys, former deputy social media editor for the Reuters news agency, represented by lawyer Jay Leiderman was convicted Wednesday for his role in a conspiracy to hack Los Angeles Times and Tribune Co. servers.
Keys’ attorney, Jay Leiderman, said they will appeal after Keys’ sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 20 in Sacramento.
“He shouldn’t be doing a day in jail,” Leiderman said. “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?”
Edward Snowden, who exposed the mass-surveillance practices of the National Security Agency, tweeted about Keys’ potential sentence, followed by #PrisonPolicy.
“I appreciate the support that everyone is sending my way,” Keys said in response. “This affects our ability to keep sources confidential. I hope they funnel that outrage and anger into progress.”
In their indictment, federal prosecutors alleged Keys conspired with Anonymous members to access the Tribune Co.’s servers “for the purpose of learning how to alter and damage it.” According to federal authorities, Keys provided a username and password for Tribune servers to hackers in an online chat room after he left KTXL in late October 2010.
With the information from Keys, prosecutors say, a hacker accessed a news story on The Times’ website and changed a headline on a story about tax cuts to read: “Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337.”
“[T]hat was such a buzz having my edit on the LA Times,” the hacker, using the screen name “sharpie,” wrote to Keys, according to the indictment.
In an interview with The Times following his conviction, Keys … said prosecutors only went after him after he published information in 2011 that he gleaned from unnamed online sources, and refused to cooperate with federal investigators in a separate probe.
“They would love it if journalists who get background or go into dark places would play ball in criminal investigations,” Keys said of prosecutors. “But we’re under no obligation to do that. That’s how we get out our stories – by protecting our sources.”