Indictment In Palin E-Mail Hacker Case

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The indictment accuses Kernell of gaining unauthorized access to Palin's Yahoo e-mail account by resetting the password using Yahoo's password recovery tool. The court papers allege that Kernell reset Palin's password to "popcorn" by researching and correctly answering a series of personal security questions.

Using the pseudonym "Rubico" in a posting on the Internet 4chan forum, Kernell allegedly detailed how he easily gained access to Palin's e-mail, and said that the intrusion began as a "prank."

"I really wanted to get something incriminating which I was sure there would be," the e-mail said. "I read though the e-mails ALL OF THEM before I posted, and what I concluded was anticlimactic, there was nothing there, nothing incriminating, nothing that would derail her campaign as I had hoped, all I saw was personal stuff, some clerical stuff from when she was governor and pictures of her family."

Kernell, according to the court document, made screenshots of some e-mail contents, and included e-mail addresses of family members, pictures and at least one cell phone number. By posting the information publicly, the court said that Kernell provided "the means of access to the e-mail account to others, and at least one other individual successfully used the reset password to access Governor Palin's e-mail account."

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The indictment also accuses Kernell of removing, altering, concealing and covering up files on his laptop when he faced a criminal probe. In conclusion, the indictment read:

"In furtherance of the commission of a criminal act in violation of the laws of the United States ... [Kernell] intentionally and without authorization accessed a protected computer by means of an interstate communication and thereby obtained information, and did aid and abet in same."

Kernell turned himself in to authorities for arraignment Wednesday. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of five years and a fine of $250,000.