Student denies hacking into Palin emails

Student denies hacking into Palin emails

The son of a Democratic politician denied hacking into the email account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin today.

David Kernell, 20, of Knoxville, Tennessee, pleaded not guilty at the city’s federal court to intentionally accessing Mrs Palin’s email without authorisation.

Kernell, the son of Memphis state representative Mike Kernell, was released without having to pay bail, but the court imposed several conditions.

The University of Tennessee economics student was told he was not allowed to own a computer and could only use the internet for checking e-mail and doing class work.

He faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 (€182,851) fine and a three-year term of supervised release if convicted.

His trial was set for December 16.

Previously, US investigators said the hacker claimed responsibility in a detailed account which included his own personal email address.

Authorities said he tried to cover his trail using a US internet anonymity service that has been cooperative with the FBI in efforts to peel away that anonymity.

Last month, Kernell’s lawyer, Wade Davies, said: “The Kernell family wants to do the right thing, and they want what is best for their son.

“We are confident that the truth will emerge as we go through the process. David is a decent and intelligent young man, and I look forward to assisting him during this difficult period.”

Kernell’s father has denied knowing anything about the incident involving the Alaskan governor’s email beforehand and colleagues described him as “your quintessential Boy Scout”.

Mrs Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account was compromised last month by a hacker who revealed a few inconsequential personal messages she had received since John McCain selected her as his running mate.

The McCain campaign confirmed the break-in and called it a “shocking invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of law”.

Mrs Palin used “gov.sarah” in one of her Yahoo e-mail addresses she sometimes uses to conduct state business and the hacker targeted her separate “gov.palin” account.

When news of the incident emerged, experts said the hacker left an easy trail for investigators.

Ken Pfeil, an internet security expert, said: “He might as well have taken a picture of his house and uploaded it.”

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