US & Canada

Reuters suspends Matthew Keys after hacking charges

Online profile image of Matthew Keys
Image caption Matthew Keys previously worked as a web producer for TV station KTXL FOX 40, owned by Tribune

Reuters news agency has suspended a social media editor who was charged in the US with helping hackers to attack the website of a former employer.

A Reuters spokesman told the Associated Press in an email that Matthew Keys had been suspended with pay.

Mr Keys, 26, was charged in the US with conspiring with hacker group Anonymous to break into the website of the Tribune Company.

The indictment says he provided a login and password to the company server.

At least one hacker managed to change the web version of a Los Angeles Times news feature, the indictment says.

The Tribune Company owns both the Los Angeles Time and Sacramento-based TV station KTXL FOX 40, for which he once worked as a web producer.

The alleged incident occurred before Mr Keys' employment with Reuters.

Earlier, Mr Keys - a deputy social media editor at Reuters - said he only found out about the charges from Twitter.

"Tonight I'm going to take a break. Tomorrow, business as usual," he tweeted on Thursday.

After the indictment was announced, a Reuters spokesman said in a statement: "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."

Pass 'deactivated'

Reuters reported on Thursday that Mr Keys' work station in the New York office where he was based was being dismantled and that his security pass had been deactivated.

Image caption The Guy Fawkes mask is associated with Anonymous and other activist groups

On Thursday, the US Justice Department said Mr Keys had been charged in California with one count each of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer; transmitting information to damage a protected computer and attempted transmission of information to damage a protected computer.

After his job at KTXL FOX 40 was terminated in late October 2010, Mr Keys is alleged to have identified himself on an internet chat forum as a former Tribune Company employee and then provided members of Anonymous with the login and password to the company server.

The indictment alleges that Mr Keys had a conversation with a hacker who claimed credit for the defacement of the Los Angeles Times website.

The hacker allegedly told him that Tribune Company system administrators had locked him out.

According to the indictment, Mr Keys is then alleged to have tried to regain access for the hacker, and when he learned that the hacker had made changes to a page, Mr Keys is said to have responded: "Nice."

If convicted, Mr Keys faces up to 10 years in jail, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for each count.

He is scheduled to appear in the Sacramento federal court on 14 April.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites