The former college student imprisoned for hacking the email account of Sarah Palin has had his appeal against the charge on which he was convicted rejected by a US court.

David Kernell, who has already been released after serving 11 months for his hacking the former vice Presidential candidate’s Yahoo account in 2008, had appealed against his conviction for obstructing the course of justice.

After guessing his way into Palin’s account and publishing images and emails he found there, Kernell then allegedly set out to cover his tracks, removing traces of what he’d done from his computer.

Kernell's legal team argued that he had not been contacted by police at that point and convicting him on the charge was in effect a criminalisation of his acts before he was aware he might be obstructing justice.

The three-judge panel rejected this claim, pointing to evidence of a discussion he’d had on an Internet forum in which he made comments that appeared to anticipate police interest in him.

“Thus there is no doubt from this post that Kernell contemplated that an investigation would occur when he took his action, since he specifically referenced the possibility of an FBI investigation in his post," the court ruled.

In November 2010, Kernell was sentenced to a year and a day in Tennessee State halfway house, a less serious outcome than being sent to an adult prison. He served almost 11 months.

The appeal rejection should bring to a close one of the most colourful hacking episodes of recent years that pitted a DIY intruder with a prominent Democrat for a father against the superstardom of a previously-obscure Governor of Alaska. Neither emerged unscathed.