Journalist convicted on hacking charges tries to stay out of prison during appeal
UPDATE 3:54pm ET: In a text message to Ars, Keys said that his prison designation has been changed to the minimum security camp at Atwater, in Merced County, California. The judge has not yet ruled on the self-surrender date, but is expected to do so next week.
Original story: Lawyers for journalist Matthew Keys are set to appear before a federal judge in Sacramento, California, on Wednesday morning to ask that his upcoming self-surrender date be pushed back pending his appeal. During the same hearing, the judge is also likely to set how much money Keys must pay in restitution to his former employer, Fox 40 and Tribune Media.
The 29-year-old was convicted in 2015 of three counts of conspiracy and criminal hacking under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and was sentenced earlier this year to two years in prison. For now, Keys is due to report to federal prison in Lompoc, California, next week.
In a motion filed with the court on Tuesday, Tor Ekeland, one of Keys’ attorneys, noted that his client has consistently shown that “he is not a flight risk nor a dangerous threat to the community” and as such should be allowed to stay out of custody while his appeal is pending.
His case raises significant questions regarding the proper scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act’s (CFAA) damage and loss provisions. These issues led the Court to raise the possibility of a variance because the proof presented to the jury was for a different crime. Because these are substantial appellate issues that could meet any one of the factors listed in 18 U.S.C. 3143(b), this Court should grant his release pending appeal.
The appeal largely rests on the argument that Keys’ alleged actions—providing access to a content management system that ultimately resulted in the brief defacement of one Los Angeles Timesarticle—caused no actual damage, and therefore, there was no damage under the CFAA.
Even post-conviction, Keys has maintained that he did not hand over any login information that led to the 40-minute alteration of the LA Times headline. (Hours before Keys’ sentencing hearing, Ars received a letter from someone under the pseudonym “Sam Snow,” who claimed that he, and not Keys, was the one who actually handed over the login details.)
The judge will hear arguments in a separate hearing on July 6, 2016 regarding the motion to keep Keys out of prison entirely while the appeal is ongoing.
Source | ARSTechnica