Page last updated at 10:36 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 11:36 UK

Palin's e-mail account plundered

Yahoo mail home page, BBC
The hacked Yahoo account was one of two Ms Palin owned

Anonymous hackers have gained access to the personal e-mail account of US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Those behind the hack put screenshots of messages in Ms Palin's Yahoo inbox on the whistle-blowing site Wikileaks.

In a statement the McCain campaign said: "This is a shocking invasion of the governor's privacy and a violation of law."

It said it had handed investigation of the matter over to US law enforcement authorities.

Deleted messages

The documents posted to Wikileaks were from Ms Palin's e-mail account and included five screenshots, two digital photos of her family and an address book.

The McCain campaign urged those in possession of the documents to destroy them.

The attack was carried out by a loose coalition of hackers which calls itself "Anonymous".

The attack comes as Ms Palin falls under scrutiny for the way that she used personal e-mail accounts to conduct state business as governor of Alaska. US law dictates that all messages connected to official business as state governor must be preserved.

By contrast, personal messages can be deleted.

Ms Palin is being investigated for abuse of power by attempting to sack a state trooper who had recently been divorced from Ms Palin's sister.

Subsequent investigation has shown that the account has been shut down along with another,, also owned by Ms Palin.

It is not clear yet what methods the hacking group used to access to the e-mail account. The screenshots posted by the hackers reveal that they carried out the attack via a so-called proxy service to hide their tracks and limit the chance that they would be traced.

Earlier in 2008 the Anonymous group launched several online assaults against the Church of Scientology.

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