US hacking probe to find 'criminal' acts: senator

13th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A key US Senator predicted Wednesday that an investigation in the United States into the phone-hacking firestorm at Rupert Murdoch's media empire would find evidence of "criminal" activities.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, who called Tuesday for a formal probe into whether alleged improper behavior extended to US citizens, told reporters that his "bet" was that "we'll find some criminal stuff."

Asked whether he was saying he thought there would be evidence of criminal acts in the United States and whether he was referring to possible phone hacking, Rockefeller replied "yeah" each time.

Asked whether his powerful committee would launch its own probe into the scandal, Rockefeller replied: "We might do that."

"This will be a huge issue," he said.

Rockefeller called Tuesday for "the appropriate agencies" of the US government to probe whether alleged hacking by members of Murdoch's media empire extended to US citizens and warned of "severe" consequences.

"I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe," said Rockefeller, a Democrat.

Under British government pressure, Murdoch dramatically dropped his bid for control of pay-TV giant BSkyB Wednesday.

Hours before Britain's three main parties were set to back an extraordinary parliamentary vote calling for the withdrawal of the bid, Murdoch's US-based News Corp. said it was now "too difficult to progress in this climate."

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the news, saying the Australian-born tycoon should focus on cleaning up his business after the scandal which forced the closure of the News of the World tabloid on Sunday.

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.

© 2011 AFP

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