Matthew Keys Was An Undercover Journalist, Attorney Says

Reuters Journalist @TheMatthewKeysMatthew Keys who is the deputy social media editor of Reuters has been recently charged for being involved in an anon attack on a website which was conducted by Anonymous hacker’s group. The connection of Matthews with the website is that it belongs to his former employer and his attorneys briefed out that he communicated with the hacker’s group as an undercover journalist. Now that’s 007 for you.

Attorney Jay Leiderman added that when “I say under-cover act, I am being loose with the term’’ he plunged into it to get the story’’. A story for which he hurled himself into some restricted areas on the internet and he is now facing prosecution as an outcome.

Attorney Tor Ekeland told that he was not excepting this to happen and was really surprised from this indictment. He told that Keys termed this government’s case as a typical example of DOJ overreach.

Ekeland said that ‘’it seems like the government is accusing a reporter just for writing on an anon attack under the computer fraud and abuse act.

In view of the federal prosecutors, Keys violated the basic doctrines of journalism and the act was simply an attempt to bring deformity on his former employer’s website which belongs to a local fox station situated in Sacramento.

However Keys attorney have maintained that he did not turned over any login information related to the company’s content management system and also went on to state that such a charge against him is a scary precedent for the whole journalist community.

Liederman said that such charges against a journalist is nothing but an act to prevent them from doing what is needed to get a story on an anon incident and is truly discouraging for the profession.

Both Liederman and Ekeland are Pro Bono representatives for Keys and the case before the indictment was being handled by a federal public defender, according to Leiderman.

Ekelend has also been representing the alleged members of the anon group along with Andrew Auernheimer who is a hacker known by the name of “Weev”. This hacker was convicted back in November for penetrating into an AT&T server from where he collected thousands of email addresses and gave them out to a website Gawker. He will hear the sentence next week and may have to face an imprisonment of about 10 years.

Reportedly on Thursday, Keys has been suspended by his acting employer Thomson Reuters as he did not answered any of the phone calls or the email requiring comment.

Prosecutors showed up in anticipation to counter Keys attorney’s argument that he was only acting as a journalist. The US attorney Ben Wager stated to Reuters that the officials involved at the department of justice has backed off several times from the indictment for the reason that Keys is a journalist. However the spokeswoman of the department of justice told HuffPost that there was only a mere natural consultation that took place between the criminal division of social justice department and the US Attorney office.

The producer who two months ago dismissed Keys is the one who called for FBI and pointed out Keys as a suspect, that’s what the affidavit says.

The affidavit mentions that Keys has been in charge of the social media station and he went on to change the passwords of the company’s Facebook and twitter accounts so that others cannot access them. He has also been accused in the affidavit for deleting 6000 followers on the station’s twitter account. However the producer took over control just after 4 days of the act.

Back on 12th December 2012, Keys told the producer that he is in interaction with some of the anonymous groups and also had accessibility to some of the operations which will be conducted in the future including operations against Fox News, Los Angeles Times, Amazon, Pay Pal and others. Two days after he said this to the producer, a hacker succeeded in defacing the Los Angeles website by changing the headline.

While having conversation with a member of the anon group termed as InternetFeds, Keys has been accused of asking them that whether they needed any of the email addresses and an access to the content management system which belongs to Fox40. FBI has accused that Keys persuaded the hackers to send him a private message if they are willing to initiate an attack on Fox news as he possesses the user name and the password of their cms.

FBI has also stated that a hacker who used the display name ‘’Kayla’’ stated in a chat during march 2011 that Keys was the one who provided them with the passwords of Fox40 and LA times along with passwords of some others.

FBI also claims that they have acquired a chat log between Keys who went onboard with the name ‘’AESCracked and Hector Xavier Monsegur who used the name ‘’Sabu”. This hacker is known as the ringleader of ‘’Lulzsec’’ who are an offshoots anonymous. Monsegur later went on to become an undercover informant for FBI for an anonymous. The FBI has claimed that the chat between Keys and the hacker was as follows.

‘’Sabu: that would be nice to get access to fox. let me know if I can get access. I want to see if I can get further in. AESCracked: I’m not a hacker. AESCracked: I’m an ex-employee’’

Keys then went on to share the login information of the computer server of the parent company of Fox40 which is known by the name of Tribune Co.’s . This gave hackers the internal access to LA times websites, says FBI. Then Keys after leaking out the information has been alleged of telling the hackers to “go f**k some s**t up!”.

FBI also states that Keys also suffered a ban from InternetFeds chat room for leaking out info to media.

On Oct 4, 2012, Keys apartment in Seacaucus, N.J was searched by the federal agents and Keys afterwards exclaimed to one of his friend that it was quite a rough day. “ Normally Keys is continuously present on social media but after the search, he went invisible for at least four days’’.

The first post that came from Keys after the search by the federal agents came on Facebook where he posted a quote of Conan O ‘Brien at the last episode of the Show (The Tonight Show) which he hosted and the quote was as follows.

“Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get,” Keys wrote, “but if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

Via: HuffingtonPost


Waqas

Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.