FBI probes possible News Corp. hacking in US

14th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The FBI said Thursday it was probing to see whether the phone-hacking firestorm at Rupert Murdoch's media empire has reached US shores.

US lawmakers have been calling for days for formal probes, including an FBI investigation, to look into whether News Corp. employees targeted the phone records of September 11 victims, as allegedly happened in Britain.

"We are aware of the allegations and we are looking into it," a spokeswoman from the FBI's New York office told AFP.

The FBI and the Justice Department refused to describe their inquiries as a formal investigation.

"The department does not comment specifically on investigations, though anytime we see evidence of wrongdoing, we take appropriate action," a Justice Department spokeswoman said.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, a Republican, had sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller urging him to look into the matter.

"The 9/11 families have suffered egregiously, but unfortunately they remain vulnerable against such unjustifiable parasitic strains. We can spare no effort or expense in continuing our support for them," he said.

Democratic Senators Jay Rockefeller and Barbara Boxer also urged Attorney General Eric Holder and Mary Schapiro, chief of the Wall Street watchdog Securities and Exchange Commission, to see if US laws had been broken.

"The reported allegations against News Corporation are very serious, indicate a pattern of illegal activity, and involve thousands of potential victims," the lawmakers said in a letter to Holder and Schapiro.

"It is important to ensure that no United States laws were broken and no United States citizens were victimized," the senators said.

They also pointed to charges that employees of Murdoch's News Corp. -- a US-based firm -- had bribed British police as part of the hacking scandal, saying that could violate a US law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

After decades as Britain's political kingmaker, Murdoch has seen his empire threatened by a wave of public outrage over the hacking of voicemails belonging to people including a murdered girl and the families of dead troops.

In the United States, Murdoch's Fox News Channel is seen by many Democrats as a tool of their Republican rivals, while the network denies any bias.

© 2011 AFP

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