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Ex-Reuters Journalist Gets 2 Years For LA Times Hack

A former Reuters journalist was sentenced to two years in prison on Wednesday for helping the group Anonymous hack the website of the Los Angeles Times, the Justice Department said.

Matthew Keys, 29, was found guilty of conspiracy to cause damage to a protected computer and other crimes last October. He faced a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Online profile picture of Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys, former deputy social media editor for Reuters.com, is seen in his online profile in this undated photo.

Keys previously worked for a Sacramento television station owned by the Times’ parent company, Tribune Co., and was accused in 2013 of providing hackers with login information to a Tribune server three years before and encouraging them to "disrupt" the Times website, the Justice Department said in a statement.

In December 2010, a story on the Times website about tax cuts was briefly altered.

In a post on the website Medium on Wednesday, Keys said that he is innocent.

“Nobody should face terrorism charges for passing a Netflix username and password,” he wrote. “But under today’s law, prosecutors can use their discretion to bring those exact charges against people — including journalists — whenever they see fit. Prosecutors did so in this case.”

On Twitter, Edward Snowden criticized the sentence, writing: “Two years for a web defacement lasting 40 minutes.”

The Justice Department, however, has described Keys as a “disgruntled former employee who used his technical skills to taunt and torment his former employer.”

At his sentencing hearing, federal district court judge Kimberly J. Mueller said that Keys' "downfall came from playing his former employer against Anonymous, while holding himself out as a professional journalist," according to a Justice Department statement.

"The mask that Mr. Keys put on appeared to allow a heartless character to utter lines that are unbecoming a journalist,” Mueller said.