A US federal grand jury has indicted a Thomson Reuters employee of aiding the hacker group, Anonymous, to break into the website of a former employer, the Tribune Company.

Thursday’s indictment charged Matthew Keys, deputy social media editor at Reuters.com, with three criminal counts, including conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer.

The indictment says Keys gave members of Anonymous a login and password to the company server.

The alleged incident occurred prior to his employment with Reuters, the indictment filed on Thursday indicated.

The indictment alleged that other hacking targets were the Fox 40 television station in Sacramento, California and the Los Angeles Times, both owned by the Tribune.

In December 2010, members of the Anonymous had a conversation online in which one expressed a desire to gain unauthorised access to Fox computer systems, the indictment said.

Keys is scheduled to be arraigned on April 12 in Sacramento, according to the court docket.

He could not immediately be reached for comment.

'Disciplinary action'

A Thomson Reuters spokesman said the company was aware of the indictment and added, "Any legal violations, or failures to comply with the company's own strict set of principles and standards, can result in disciplinary action."

The company didn't specify whether any disciplinary action has been taken against Keys.

A Tribune Company spokesman declined to comment.

Keys, who once worked for KTXL Fox 40 as a web producer provided the username and password to the hackers, according to the indictment.

Someone then used the information to log on to servers for the Tribune Company, which is Fox 40's corporate parent.

Shortly after, the indictment alleges, a member of the conspiracy altered content on a Los Angeles Times news story on the paper's website.

When Keys learned that the hacker had changed the Times story, Keys responded "nice," according to the indictment.

Source: Agencies