Share & Connect
The scandal shaking Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in the United Kingdom has crossed the waters to the United States.
U.S. authorities have acknowledged that they are looking into a report by Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper that reporters with The News of the World offered to pay a New York police officer for private phone records of some 9/11 victims.
U.S. officials explained that News Corp. employees sought to hack into the phones of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and tried to bribe law enforcement officers for information.
The Daily Mirror‘s report, citing an unidentified source, has yet to be independently verified but has already fueled U.S. emotions over the phone hacking scandal that has taken over Britain and shaken Murdoch’s company.
Legal experts say the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is ordinarily used against companies accused of paying bribes to win contracts. But some U.S. lawmakers and experts have suggested it could be used against News Corp. because News of the World journalists allegedly bribed police officers to gain information.
New York attorney, Normal Siegel, who represents Sept. 11 family members in three legal cases, sent letters on Monday, July 11 requesting meetings with FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General Eric Holder and Representative John Conyers, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
“We will, of course, provide an appropriate response to any letter from representatives from the 9/11 victims,” said Bill Carter of the FBI’s national press office.
It was not immediately clear whether federal prosecutors in Manhattan were involved in the case. They would most likely have jurisdiction over any prosecution because the 9/11 victims and their cellphones were in Manhattan when they died.
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, democrat of West Virginia, was the first to issue a statement on the matter, saying on Tuesday, July 12 that the U.S. government should hold investigations to “ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated.”
He was also joined by the two New Jersey senators, Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg. Sen. Menendez asked the Justice Department to investigate the claims involving 9/11 victims, saying in his letter that the “large scope” of the hacking in Britain made it “imperative to investigate whether victims in the United States have been affected as well.”
It appears that it is not enough that U.S. citizens remain scarred over what took place on that dark day of Sept. 11 since, overseas, the tragic phone calls are being taken without permission, violating the rights of those families.
These revelations have critically damaged Murdoch’s British operations, leading to the withdrawal of his $12 billion offer for the country’s largest satellite television operator, British Sky Broadcasting. They have also created a major political test for British Prime Minister David Cameron over his close personal ties to News Corp. executives.
Media analyst, Claire Enders said News Corp. might be tempted to sell its other British newspapers — The Sun, The Times and the Sunday Times. This is an outcome favored by some analysts and shareholders.
“The politicians want the Murdoch’s role in public life to be greatly diminished,” Enders said. “They would like them to move to New York and stay there.”