updated 10/8/2008 2:54:34 PM ET 2008-10-08T18:54:34

The son of a Democratic Tennessee state lawmaker pleaded not guilty Wednesday to hacking the e-mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

David Kernell, 20, of Knoxville, Tenn., entered the plea in federal court in Knoxville, the same day prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging him with intentionally accessing Palin's e-mail account without authorization.

Kernell, an economics student at the University of Tennessee, was brought into court wearing handcuffs and shackles on his ankles.

He was released without posting bond, but the court forbade him from owning a computer and limited his Internet use to checking e-mail and doing class work.

Kernell's father is longtime state Rep. Mike Kernell of Memphis, chairman of Tennessee's House Government Operations Committee. The lawmaker has said he had nothing to do with the hacking incident.

David Kernell was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Knoxville and faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Trial is set for Dec. 16.

Prosecutors declined to say if anyone else would be charged. U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley restricted Kernell from discussing the case with any potential witnesses, which include his roommates.

Kernell was also restricted from having any contact directly or indirectly with the Alaska governor or her family.

Shirley warned that if Kernell violated any part of his release conditions, he would be held until the trial.

Kernell's attorney, Wade Davies, accompanied his client in court.

"As soon as we found out about the charges this morning, David voluntarily turned himself in," said Davies, who refused to answer any other questions.

The indictment alleges that on Sept. 16 Kernell reset the password to Palin's personal e-mail account to gain access to it. Authorities say Kernell then read the contents of the account and made screenshots of the e-mail directory, e-mail content and other personal information, later posting some of the information to a public Web site.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments