Court Finds American Journalist Guilty Of Helping Anonymous Deface News Website
Matthew Keys, An American journalist, has been found guilty of helping Anonymous deface the Los Angeles Times’ website, according to the BBC. Prosecutors said he gave hackers a password for the website and encouraged Anonymous, on chatting platforms.
The verdict has ignited comment on social media websites. Keys’ supporters say he has been penalized for a minor offense.
A Justice Department spokesperson said the sentence would likely be less than five years, according to the BBC. Keys faced up to 25 years. The sentencing will be January 20.
Keys’ lawyer, Jay Leiderman, said he will appeal the verdict, according to The Los Angeles Times. Leiderman said Keys should not serve any jail time.
Guilty On All Three Counts
The court found Keys guilty of all three counts: conspiracy to damage a protected computer, transmitting a malicious code, and attempting transmission of a malicious code, according to the BBC.
Key stated after the hearing that his only crime was an act journalism. He said the fact that the case was brought against him “is beyond belief and expectation,” the BBC reported. He accused the Justice Department of targeting reporters and reporters’ sources in order to advance their own agendas.
Prosecutors said Keys gave Tribune Co.’s login information to an Anonymous member because he wanted revenge after Tribune-owned Fox affiliate KTXL fired him two months earlier, according to the London-based International Business Times. The Tribune Co. owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and other media outlets.
Tribune-Owned Station Fired Keys
Keys lost his job at Fox 40 KTXL in California in 2010, according to court documents. He then went to work as the social media editor at Reuters and was fired in 2012 after being charged.
Keys used a pseudonym AESCracked and shared log-in details for the Los Angeles Times content system, according to the BBC. The newspaper’s content management system, CMS, is used to enter content for the website.
A member of the hacker group Anonymous used the name “sharpie” to edit a story on the website. The hacker altered a headline to read: “Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337.” The hacker also changed the opening paragraph to include a phrase saying House Democrats were told to “SUCK IT UP.”
The altered article went live on the Los Angeles Times website for around one hour, the defense claimed.
Parties Debate Cost To Correct Problem
In order to investigate and fix the problem, The Tribune Co. said it cost $18,000 for 333 hours of staff time, according to documents, the International Business Times reported. Keys’ lawyers said this actually took less than one hour and the cost to repair the damage fell below the $5,000 needed for the violation to be considered a felony.
A Tribune Co. spokesperson commended the court’s decision.
Keys currently works as a managing editor at Grasswire. He says he will continue to work there until he is sentenced.
The Watching World Weighs In
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 7, 2015
Anonymous often targeted media websites, according to the BBC. Lulzsec, a splinter group, claimed credit for posting a story on The Sun’s website that Rupert Murdoch, the Sun’s owner, committed suicide.
A story on PBS in the U.S. said Tupac Shakur, who was killed in 1996, was actually alive in New Zealand, according to the BBC.
Authorities arrested Lulzsec members after Hector Xavier Nonsegur (known as Sabu), a hacker who became an informant helped police determine the hackers’ identities. Monsegur’s sentence was reduced to one year under supervision.
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