Tennessee man indicted for hacking Palin e-mail

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Tennessee man has been indicted for hacking into Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.

Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks during a rally in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, October 8, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

David Kernell, 20, of Knoxville, turned himself in and will appear before a U.S. judge on Wednesday, the Justice Department said. He faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted.

According to the indictment, Kernell accessed Palin’s account,, on September 16 after correctly answering a series of personal questions.

Yahoo allows users to change their passwords if they confirm personal information such as their birth date and ZIP code and correctly answer a personal question such as the name of their first pet.

Kernell then posted some of the account’s contents, along with the password, to the online message board, the indictment says.

Kernell, known online as “rubico,” also posted family members’ cellphone numbers and e-mail addresses online, the indictment says.

Kernell is the son of a Democratic state legislator, according to local media reports. The legislator, Mike Kernell, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Palin occasionally used the account to conduct state business, according to media reports. Critics have charged that she uses the account to get around public-records laws.

Palin is the running mate of Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the November 4 election.

Palin spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt called the hack “deeply troubling.”

“We are certain that the proper authorities will pursue justice and send a clear signal to reassure all Americans that their personal e-mail accounts cannot be hacked into with impunity,” Schmitt said in a statement.

Editing by Philip Barbara