Trial of Web Producer Accused of Helping Anonymous Starts Today

By Kevin Eck 

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The trial of Matthew Keys, former web producer for Tribune-owned Sacramento Fox affiliate KTXL, starts today. Keys is accused of giving the hacking group Anonymous the log-in credentials to a Tribune Media server in December 2010.

Anonymous used the information to change an online version of a story in the Los Angeles Times.

Bloomberg reports Keys was fired from KTXL after making a disparaging comment about the station.

Keys says he shouldn’t be charged with felonies since the U.S. government can’t prove he caused $5,000 in damage. The government claims Keys cost Tribune more than $2 million after allegedly sending spam messages to a stolen customer list.

Thomson Reuters Corp.’s news division hired him as a deputy social media editor. But in April 2013, a month after he was charged in connection with the L.A. Times hack, Reuters fired him, citing purported inaccuracies in his reporting on the Boston Marathon bombing.

Initially, Keys was charged only with helping an Anonymous member hack into the website of the Times. Later, prosecutors expanded his indictment to include the theft of KTXL’s customer e-mail list. Prosecutors say Keys sent e-mails denigrating the station to hundreds of people on the list.

Keys’s attorneys won a ruling Friday from U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller that bars the prosecution from introducing a report that estimated the damage caused to the station by the spamming at $929,977.

The defense contends the L.A. Times website attack resulted in no financial loss because system administrators discovered the hack within an hour and restored the story to its original state from a backup.