The 20-year-old son of a Tennessee state legislator pleaded not guilty to illegally accessing the e-mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin.
David C. Kernell, 20, son of state Rep. Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, was indicted Oct. 8 by a federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tenn.
According to the indictment, Kernell stands accused of accessing Palin's private Yahoo e-mail account on approximately Sept. 16 by resetting the password. He then posted screenshots of the account on 4chan.org, and later attempted to cover his tracks by deleting and altering files on his computer, authorities allege.
At the time of the hack, Palin was dealing with charges from critics that she was using a private e-mail account to handle official state business as governor.
Word of the hack spread like wildfire after screenshots from Palin's "firstname.lastname@example.org" account were posted on Wikileaks.org following the hack. At the time, hackers linked to "Anonymous"-a name given to anonymous posters on 4chan.org's message boards-were credited with the hack. However, a hacker with the handle "Rubico" posted details (warning: profanity is used) on 4chan.org of how he used Yahoo's password recovery feature to break into Palin's account. The handle was later traced to Kernell.
If convicted of the charge, Kernell faces a maximum term of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a three-year term of supervised release. A trial date has not been set.