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FBI to investigate Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.: Did it hack 9/11 victims?

At the urging of several members of Congress, the FBI has begun investigating whether victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their families were subject to phone hacking from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

By Staff writer / July 14, 2011

Protestors hold a demonstration outside the home of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch on 5th Avenue in New York, on Thursday. They called for a congressional investigation of Mr. Murdoch, who’s in the midst of a firestorm over charges of phone-hacking and corruption.

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In a sign that the British scandal involving media mogul Rupert Murdoch is coming under closer scrutiny in the United States, the FBI has launched a probe investigating possible journalistic wrong-doing in this country.

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According to several reports Thursday, the FBI inquiry comes as a result of requests by several members of Congress.

Specifically, Rep. Peter King (R) of New York, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, wants to know if victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their families may have been the subject of illegal or unethical actions by News Corporation, Murdoch’s parent company, whose holdings include the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Fox Broadcasting Company.

In Great Britain, Murdoch abruptly shut down the Sunday tabloid News of the World following charges that the organization’s journalists had hacked into cell phones and paid police officers for information – including private information about the victims of terrorist attacks and soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Similar (though unproven) charges have been made regarding a private investigator and former New York City police officer, offered payment for information about 9/11 victims.

"If these allegations are proven true," Representative King wrote to FBI Director Robert Mueller, "the conduct would merit felony charges for attempting to violate various federal statutes related to corruption of public officials and prohibitions against wiretapping. Any person found guilty of this purported conduct should receive the harshest sanctions available under law."

Based on off-the-record interviews with sources familiar with the US probe, the New York Times reported Thursday, the inquiry is expected to be handled jointly by two FBI squads in New York, one that investigates cybercrimes and another that focuses on public corruption and white-collar crimes.

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