Journalist Matthew Keys Sentenced To 2 Years In Anonymous Hack On LA Times

Prosecutors said the former Reuters social media editor had sought revenge on his former employer.

WASHINGTON — Matthew Keys, a journalist who previously worked for Reuters, was sentenced to two years in prison by a federal judge in Sacramento on Wednesday following his conviction in a hacking case, according to reporter Sarah Jeong.

Keys will go into federal custody on June 15, Jeong reported.

Federal prosecutors charged the 29-year-old in early 2013 over an incident that took place in 2010 involving the hacking group Anonymous, shortly after Keys was fired from his job at a Tribune Publishing Co.-owned station in Sacramento. The feds accused him of distributing login details and encouraging hackers to "fuck some shit up" during the attack on the LA Times website, which the Tribune Publishing Co. also owns. 

By the time Keys was indicted, he was working as a social media editor at Reuters, which suspended him soon after. His lawyer claimed his client was working as an undercover journalist.

Keys wrote in a post ahead of his sentencing on Wednesday that the past three years "have been exceptionally challenging" personally and professionally. "The direction of the rest of my life rests with a single person and is almost completely beyond my control," he said. 

The journalist told Ars Technica that he turned down three plea deals because he did not want to admit to a crime he says he didn't commit.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has said that Keys' crime essentially amounts to vandalism, and shows that reform of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act -- the same statute prosecutors were using against the late internet activist Aaron Swartz -- is long overdue.

"The government certainly seems to be making an example out of Matthew Keys—as it did in the tragic case of Aaron Swartz," Amul Kalia wrote in a post for EFF. "Meanwhile, the government hasn’t even gone after the individual who actually made the changes to the LA Times article."