The 20-year-old son of a democratic state representative has apparently claimed responsibility for breaking into US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's Yahoo email account.

Mike Kernell, a state representative from Tennessee, told a local reporter that his son, David, was responsible for the hack, which hit the news yesterday after details of Palin's personal emails were distributed around the web.

Wikileaks published several screenshots of Yahoo email messages, email addresses of Palin family members and associates, and other data that had been obtained from Palin's private account.

The McCain-Palin campaign described the incident as "a shocking invasion of the Governor's privacy and a violation of law".

The FBI and Secret Service were reported to be investigating the incident, but have so far stopped short of confirming David Kernell as a suspect.

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Hackers break into Sarah Palin's Yahoo Mail account