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Democratic lawmaker's son indicted in Palin hacking

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: David Kernell pleads not guilty in e-mail hacking case
  • December 16 trial date set for Kernell
  • Kernell is the son of Rep. Mike Kernell, a Tennessee state lawmaker
  • Some of Sarah Palin's e-mail account displayed briefly on the Web
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(CNN) -- The son of a Democratic Tennessee state legislator pleaded not guilty Wednesday to hacking a personal e-mail account belonging to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors.

David Kernell, 20, son of state Rep. Mike Kernell of Memphis, Tennessee, surrendered to federal authorities "as soon as we found out about the charges this morning," his attorney, Wade Davies, told reporters after Wednesday's arraignment in Knoxville before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley.

Kernell entered the not guilty plea at the hearing, the spokeswoman for prosecutors said. He was released on bond, and a trial date was set for December 16, Davies said.

A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted Kernell on a single count of "intentionally accessing without authorization" the e-mail account of the GOP vice presidential candidate, the Justice Department said. The indictment was unsealed Wednesday.

Some of the contents of Palin's e-mail account were displayed briefly last month on the Internet. These messages did not contain significant political disclosures, but the McCain-Palin campaign called the incident "a shocking invasion of the governor's privacy and a violation of law."

FBI agents searched Kernell's Knoxville home over the September 20-21 weekend, federal law enforcement sources said.

According to the indictment, Kernell allegedly was able to access Palin's e-mail by resetting the password. He then allegedly read the contents and made screenshots of the e-mail directory and other personal information, the indictment said.

"The personal information included, and was not limited to, other e-mail addresses of family members, pictures of family members, at least one cell phone number of a family member, the dates of birth of Governor Palin and another family member, and Governor Palin's address book," the indictment said.

The screenshots were posted to a public Web site, and Kernell is alleged also to have posted the newly created password to that site allowing others to access Palin's e-mail account, it said.

The charge carries a maximum five-year prison term, a $250,000 fine and a three-year term of supervised release upon conviction, according to the Justice Department.

CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

All About Sarah PalinU.S. Department of Justice

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