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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid