No charges as grand jury investigates Palin hack

A grand jury looking into the hacking of Sarah Palin's Yahoo account has concluded its first day with no indictment.

A federal grand jury investigation into the compromise of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's Yahoo account has apparently concluded its first day of meetings without an indictment.

Local press has reported that University of Tennessee student David Kernell is being investigated as a suspect in the crime, which occurred last week. Late Tuesday, U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said that no charges had been filed in the case.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that federal agents and three students had reported Tuesday morning to the courthouse, where a federal grand jury was investigating the case. The grand jury stopped for the day around lunch time without handing down an indictment, the newspaper said.

Sweeney declined to comment on the grand jury or on whether Kernell was a suspect in the matter. Grand jury proceedings are secret until an indictment is delivered to the court.

Although Kernell has not been officially named as a suspect, he was fingered by bloggers who linked him to the online name "rubico," used by the hacker who claimed to have accessed Palin's Yahoo account last week. Information from that hack, including personal messages to and from Palin, were published on the Wikileaks Web site.

Rubico claimed to have accessed the account by using Yahoo's password reset feature and answering security questions with publicly available information. He guessed correctly that Palin had met her husband at Wasilla High.

Kernell, 20, is the son of Mike Kernell, a Democratic state representative from Memphis. David Kernell's Knoxville, Tennessee, apartment was searched over the weekend by U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, according to a local report.

Sweeney confirmed that there had been "investigatory activity late Saturday and early Sunday morning in Knoxville related to the government's inquiry."

Last week the McCain-Palin campaign called the hack "a shocking invasion of the Governor's privacy and a violation of law." Palin is the governor of Alaska.

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Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
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