UT Student Charged with Hacking Palin's Email

A University of Tennessee student is due in federal court this morning to answer charges in connection with the hacking of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's e-mail.

David C. Kernell, 20, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tennessee on October 7th, but the indictment was not unsealed until Wednesday morning.

Federal prosecutors allege Kernell intentionally accessed without authorization Palin's e-mail account. Kernell, the son of Tennessee State Representative Mike Kernell (D-Memphis), turned himself into federal authorities for arrest.

Kernell will appear in front of Federal Magistrate C. Clifford Shirley, Jr., at 10:00 a.m. for an initial appearance, according to a spokesperson in the U.S. Attorney's office. The single count indictment alleges that on approximately September 16, 2008, Kernell obtained unauthorized access to Governor Sarah Palin's personal e-mail account by allegedly resetting the account password.

According to the indictment, after answering a series of security questions that allowed him to reset the password and gain access to the e-mail account, Kernell allegedly read the contents of the account and made screenshots of the e-mail directory, e-mail content and other personal information. According to the indictment, Kernell posted screenshots of the e-mails and other personal information to a public website. Kernell also allegedly posted the new e-mail account password, thus providing access to the account by others.

"Cyber crime is the FBI's top criminal investigative priority. We would like to thank all of the internet service providers and others who partnered with us to bring this matter to a quick and successful resolution." said Richard Lambert, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Knoxville Field Division.

The case is being investigated by the FBI's Anchorage and Knoxville Field Offices.