Journalist Gets 2 Years in LA Times Hack

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – A federal judge sentenced former Reuters and Tribune Publishing employee Matthew Keys to two years in prison Wednesday for helping hackers from the group Anonymous break into the Los Angeles Times website.
     Keys, 29, was working for Reuters as a social media editor when he was charged in 2013 with giving Los Angeles Times information to hackers in a chat room. According to trial evidence, Anonymous used the information in 2010 to make changes to Web versions of a Times news feature and temporarily caused the mobile site to go offline. Keys also was accused of changing the passwords of fellow employees while he worked for Tribune at KTXL Fox 40 in Sacramento and sending “disparaging emails” about the company to KTXL viewers. Keys left Tribune — which owns both KTXL and the Los Angeles Times — in 2010.
     Reuters hired Keys in 2012 as a deputy social media editor but quickly fired him once the indictment was handed down. He has worked since then as a freelance journalist, according to his LinkedIn account.
     A federal jury deliberated two days before convicting him in October 2015 on three counts of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He faced a maximum sentence of 25 years.
     During sentencing, Mueller said Keys “appeared to allow a heartless character to utter lines that are unbecoming to a journalist.”
     “Ultimately, his downfall came from playing his former employer against Anonymous, while holding himself out as a professional journalist,” Mueller said.
     Keys’ attorney Jay Leiderman told the Huffington Post in March that Keys was simply acting as an investigative journalist and was being prosecuted for “going to get the story.”
     Prosecutors pushed for a five-year sentence, pointing to interviews and tweets Keys gave after being convicted in October. Minutes after the conviction Keys tweeted, “That was bullshit,” and lamented the case in various interviews.
     Keys plans to file a motion to stay the sentence while he appeals his conviction to the Ninth Circuit.
     “When we do appeal, we’re not only going to work to reverse the conviction but try to change this absurd computer law, as best we can,” Keys tweeted minutes after Mueller’s decision.
     Mueller ordered Keys to surrender and begin serving his sentence by June 15.

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