FBI searches apartment of alleged Palin hacker

Bureau reportedly searches apartment of David Kernell, a 20-year-old University of Tennessee student, as part of its investigation into hacking of Alaska governor's Yahoo e-mail account.

Federal authorities are ramping up an investigation of a 20-year-old college student for allegedly hacking into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's e-mail account.

Sarah Palin Alaska governor's office

The FBI searched the apartment of alleged hacker David Kernell on Sunday morning, and three of Kernell's roommates could testify this week about the case before a grand jury in Chattanooga, according to local news reports.

After it was discovered that the Republican vice presidential candidate's personal Yahoo e-mail account was hacked into , reports began circulating that the hack could be traced back to Kernell, a University of Tennessee student and son of Democratic Tennessee state representative Mike Kernell.

Witnesses told a local television station that the FBI served a search warrant at Kernell's Knoxville, Tenn., apartment early Sunday morning, interrupting a party, and spent more than an hour taking pictures of the apartment. Kernell's three roommates were subpoenaed to testify this week, a witness also said.

The hacker gained access to Palin's account by guessing certain personal details about the governor's life and then resetting her password to "popcorn." ZIP files with content from Palin's account were posted on the Internet.

Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department public-affairs specialist, confirmed that there was investigatory activity relating to the Palin hack in Knoxville over the weekend but said no criminal charges have been filed against anyone.

About the author

Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

 

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