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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid