A prominent social media journalist has been charged with conspiring with a member of the Anonymous hacking collective to hack into and "deface" the website of the Los Angeles Times.
Matthew Keys, 26, is now deputy social media editor for Reuters with more than 23,000 followers on Twitter. He was a web producer for KTXL Fox 40, a Sacramento television station owned by Tribune, the parent company of the LA Times, until his contract was terminated in October 2010.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of California alleged on Thursday that in December 2010 Mr Keys provided Anonymous members with the login and password details to access a Tribune server.
A hacker using the nickname Sharpie allegedly then accessed the server and changed a web version of an LA Times article. After the hacker was locked out by Tribune system administrators, Mr Keys attempted to regain access, the DoJ alleged.
A Justice Department court filing said Hector Xavier Monsegur, a hacker known as Sabu who has been co-operating with the FBI for months, appeared in the same chat log and offered advice on how to conduct the network intrusion.
If convicted, Mr Keys could face 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for each of three counts. The charges come as the US is raising the rhetoric against commercial and state-sponsored cyber crime.