Keys was found guilty on three counts of hacking under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, after allegedly handing over login credentials to a group of hackers that allowed them to break into the Los Angeles Times' network and alter one of its online articles. Keys, who now works as a managing editor for the news startup Grasswire, says prosecutors are punishing him for not revealing his sources in the hacking world.
Chat logs represented a key type of evidence in the case because online chat rooms were a primary method of communication between Keys and the hackers, whom he describes as journalistic sources.
A Justice Department spokesman acknowledged that the FBI did make a "time-zone adjustment for one set of chat logs to show that entries there were simultaneous with another computer in a different time zone" but said that exhibit did not go with the jury when it went to deliberate on the case. Keys's attorney objected to the FBI's move but was overruled by a judge, the agency added.
The maximum penalty under the law for Keys's infractions is a 25-year jail sentence, but it's likely that prosecutors will seek a lighter punishment, perhaps on the order of five years, according to Vice.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said that a series of chat logs were not presented to the jury. In fact, the logs were shown to the jury during the trial but did not go with the jury when it went to deliberate.