Federal grand jury meets on Palin hacking case

'We are confident the truth will emerge,' says lawyer for Tenn. college student linked to hack

As a federal grand jury convened to hear testimony about the hack of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's e-mail account, the lawyer representing the college student suspected of accessing Palin's messages called his client "a decent and intelligent young man" in a statement issued to the media today.

"The Kernell family wants to do the right thing, and they want what is best for their son," said Wade Davies, a partner in the Knoxville, Tenn., firm of Ritchie, Dillard & Davies PC, in the statement. "We are confident that the truth will emerge as we go through the process. David is a decent and intelligent young man, and I look forward to assisting him during this difficult period."

Meanwhile, a Chattanooga, Tenn., newspaper reported today that a grand jury had convened at the federal court there, but had not filed any indictments.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press said the grand jury met this morning, when the three roommates of David Kernell, 20, of Knoxville, appeared. The session ended without an indictment, said the paper, whose Web site was offline as of 3 p.m. Eastern time.

Kernell, a student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, was originally linked to last week's hack of Palin's Yahoo Mail account by self-appointed sleuths on blogs and message boards after someone identified only as "Rubico" posted a message claiming to have accessed Palin's mail. Others subsequently connected the Rubico handle to the e-mail address "rubico10@yahoo.com," which was in turn linked to Kernell.

Yesterday, the webmaster of a Georgia-based proxy service confirmed that his server logs showed the intruder used an IP address belonging to an Illinois Internet service provider that serves the Knoxville apartment complex where Kernell lives.

Early Sunday, FBI agents searched Kernell's apartment and served his roommates with subpoenas to appear at the Chattanooga grand jury.

Kernell is the son of Mike Kernell, a longtime Democratic state representative from Memphis.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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