Reuters' Matthew Keys accused of Anonymous conspiracy

Guy Fawkes mask (file image) Anonymous supporters appear in public wearing Guy Fawkes masks

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A Reuters social media editor has been charged in the US with conspiring with hacker group Anonymous to break into a website of a former employer, the Tribune Company.

The indictment says Matthew Keys gave members of Anonymous 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 alleged incident occurred before Mr Keys' employment with Reuters.

Mr Keys said he only found out about the charges from Twitter.

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

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."

Court date set

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.

Mr Keys worked for Sacramento-based TV station KTXL FOX 40 - owned by Tribune - as its web producer but his job was terminated in late October 2010, the indictment adds.

He 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 Tribune Company server.

The indictment alleges that Mr Keys had a conversation with the 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.

Mr Keys allegedly 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.

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