Hackers crack Palin e-mail as Alaska gov. becomes web star

U.S. Republican party officials want to know how hackers broke into one of vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin's internet e-mail accounts and messages, and family photographs on the web.

Republicans demand probe into 'invasion of privacy'

U.S. Republican party officials are demanding a full investigation into how hackers broke into one of vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin's internet e-mail accounts, and posted several personal messages and some family photographs on the web.

The posting, by a group of hackers describing itself only as "Anonymous," appeared on the Wikileaks website. It consists of a message to Palin from a friend, and one from the Alaska governor to her deputy, who is running for Congress. A screen shot of her inbox and address book also appeared on the site.

Late Wednesday, the Republican campaign called for anyone who has downloaded Palin's personal e-mails to destroy them.

"This is a shocking invasion of the governor's privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these e-mails will destroy them," the campaign said in a statement.

The Secret Service contacted the Associated Press on Wednesday and asked for copies of the leaked e-mails, which circulated widely on the internet, but the news agency did not comply.

Propriety questions raised

The disclosure Wednesday raised new questions about the propriety of the Palin administration's use of unofficial e-mail accounts to conduct state business. It has been months  — prior to Palin's selection as a vice-presidential candidate — since political opponents obtained internal e-mails documenting the practice by some aides.

According to Alaska law, e-mails relating to the official business of government cannot be destroyed. The regulations say personal e-mails can be deleted.

Palin is already being investigated for alleged abuse of office for an unrelated matter.

One person whose e-mail to Palin apparently was among those disclosed, Amy B. McCorkell, declined to discuss her correspondence.

"I do not know anything about it," McCorkell said. "I'm not giving you any comment."

McCorkell later confirmed that she did send the e-mail to Palin.

Another e-mail revealed Wednesday was an exchange in July with Alaska Lt.-Gov. Sean Parnell discussing a talk show host who had been critical of Parnell. Parnell declined to discuss the matter.

Palin herself used "gov.sarah" in one of her e-mail addresses, but the hackers targeted her "gov.palin" account. Her husband used "fek9wnr" in his address. "Fe" is the representation for iron, and "k9" is an abbreviation for canine.

Todd Palin was the winner of the gruelling Iron Dog snowmobile race, and "fek9wnr" also is Todd Palin's vehicle licence plate in Alaska.

Method of hacking unknown

It wasn't immediately clear how hackers broke into Palin's Yahoo account, but it would have been possible to trick the service into revealing her password knowing personal details about Palin that include her birthdate and ZIP code. A hacker also might have sent a forged e-mail to her account tricking her into revealing her own password.

Palin's running mate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said several months ago that he was just learning to use the internet and he relied upon his daughter Bridget to help him by doing "a Google" when he needed to know something.

Since then, his campaign has been at pains to emphasize his ability to use the web.

His appointment of Palin as running mate has catapulted the Republican ticket into the internet spotlight with the marketing website Hitwise saying "Sarah Palin" has emerged in recent weeks as the most popular political phrase typed into search engines.

with files from the Associated Press