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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid