News / Europe

US Starts Investigation on Whether 9/11 Victims' Phones Were Hacked

James and Rupert Murdoch (C) and a minder leave the Stafford Hotel in St James's Place, central London July 10, 2011
James and Rupert Murdoch (C) and a minder leave the Stafford Hotel in St James's Place, central London July 10, 2011

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation says it has opened an investigation into whether the phones of victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and their families were hacked into by media baron Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Law enforcement sources said Thursday the FBI will look into whether employees at Murdoch's media firm illegally tried to access private calls, voicemail messages or call records of the victims and their relatives after the attacks nearly a decade ago, or looked to bribe police for such information.  The FBI started the probe a day after Peter King, a congressman for the New York district where many of the 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks lived, asked the agency to investigate.

The FBI involvement is just the latest twist in the widening scandal engulfing Murdoch's vast media empire.  In London on Thursday, the 80-year-old Murdoch and his son, James, at first refused, then agreed to testify before the British parliament next week about the phone-hacking and police bribery scandal that has engulfed their British media operations.

The elder Murdoch initially told parliament's media committee that he was not available to attend next Tuesday's hearing, while his son said he could not testify before August 10.  But later in the day, after the committee summoned them to appear, the Murdochs changed their minds and said they will be there after all.

The Murdochs' agreement to testify came after the head of their British operations, Rebekah Brooks, a former editor of the now-closed News of the World tabloid at the center of the scandal, said she would appear before the panel.  The Murdochs' decision to testify avoided a potential dispute over whether the parliamentary summons could be enforced against them because they are U.S. citizens -- unlike Brooks, who is British.

The skirmishing over next week's hearing came on a day when British police arrested a ninth suspect in their investigation.  He is Neil Wallis, the 60-year-old former executive editor of the News of the World who left the paper in 2009 and is now a public relations executive.  Wallis was held on "suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications."

Earlier in his career at the newspaper, Wallis was the deputy editor under Andy Coulson from 2003 to 2007.  Coulson, the communications director for British Prime Minister David Cameron from 2007 until earlier this year, was arrested in the investigation earlier this month.

By the end of the day, police acknowledged that Wallis had been employed by them as a part-time consultant on a contract that ended last September.  The French news agency said he worked for the police two days a month for a year and was paid $39,000.

The breadth of the scandal has rocked Murdoch operations in Britain, forcing the elder Murdoch to shut the 168-year-old News of the World last week and then abandon his $12-billion bid to acquire full control of British Sky Broadcasting, a satellite television company.

British politicians, including Mr. Cameron, have regularly sought to curry favor with the elder Murdoch.

But with the British public recoiling at the journalists' intrusion into the voicemails of everyday citizens, including those of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, the British leader has turned against Murdoch.  Mr. Cameron has named Lord Justice Brian Leveson to head a broad investigation into media operations in the country, as well as the specifics of what tactics Murdoch's journalists employed to gather information for their stories.  

The fallout of the British scandal has jumped to the United States, where Murdoch owns the country's top business newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, and a major television news outlet, the Fox News Channel. Some U.S. lawmakers are calling for an investigation into allegations that Murdoch journalists attempted to hack into the voicemails of victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

In Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Thursday that she may support a parliamentary review of the nation's media, following calls by Australian lawmakers to look into Mr. Murdoch's vast local media holdings.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid