US attorney-general reviewing calls for News probe

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American attorney-general Eric Holder on Friday said his office was reviewing requests from US lawmakers for a probe into News Corp following the British phone-hacking scandal.

"There has been members of Congress in the US who have asked us to investigate those same allegations and we are progressing in that regard using the appropriate federal law enforcement agencies," Holder told reporters in Sydney, where he is attending a meeting of justice officials.

His remarks follow the launch of an FBI probe Thursday into allegations British tabloid News of the World -- closed amid the hacking furore -- contacted a US private eye in a bid to access phone records of 9/11 victims.

The FBI inquiries are preliminary in nature and do not constitute a formal investigation, but the development means the scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch's under-fire media empire has now firmly crossed the Atlantic.

Holder's British colleague Dominic Grieve said the matter was being taken "very seriously" and "the Crown Prosecution Service are actively involved in providing advice as the investigation proceeds."

Murdoch's global News Corp empire was born in Australia and he is still a dominant media player in his homeland, where there are calls for a government inquiry into media ownership and regulation following the British scandal.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has indicated she would be open to such a probe, but her top legal officer, Robert McClelland, stressed there would be no moves to regulate Australia's media.

"It's a very important aspect of democracy to have an independent and robust media, and there will be no question of the government regulating the media," said attorney-general McClelland.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --

© 2011 AFP

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