Hackers access Sarah Palin's private email account

WASHINGTON - Computer hackers broke into the private Yahoo! email account of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and posted the contents online.

The hackers uploaded family photographs, the subject lines of emails and the contents of several messages, as well as Palin's address book, onto several sites including whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.org.

Wikileaks still has the items posted on its site despite FBI and secret service officials launching an investigation into the hackers, who identified themselves only as "Anonymous".

The emails allegedly show that Palin, who is Governor of Alaska, has used her personal address, gov.palin@yahoo.com, to liaise with government officials.

Palin has reportedly been criticised in the past week for using private email accounts to avoid Alaskan freedom of information laws.

One email posted on Wikileaks.org details an exchange with Sean Parnell, Alaskan Lieutenant Governor, about his campaign for Congress, and another screenshot shows Palin's inbox with an email from Amy McCorkell, whom Palin appointed to the governor's advisory board on alcoholism and drug abuse last year.

Tests by Wikileaks have revealed that both Palin's gov.palin@yahoo.com and her unrelated gov.sarah@yahoo.com account have now been deleted.

According to the Guardian, which also saw the Wikileaks data, the emails in Palin's account also included a draft letter to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a discussion of nominations to the state court of appeals, and several bearing "DPS", the acronym for the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

The webmaster of a proxy service called Ctunnel.com, which was used by the hackers to illegally access Palin's e-mail account, is working with the FBI to track down the offenders.