Senator Jay Rockefeller called for U.S. agencies to investigate whether alleged phone hacking at News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers targeted American victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans,” Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, said today in a statement posted on the website of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which he chairs. “If they did, the consequences will be severe.”
Reporters at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid are alleged to have hacked into hundreds of mobile-phone voice mails, including those of murder and terror victims, and bribed police for confidential information. The scandal prompted Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch to close the 168-year-old tabloid.
According to a report in the Daily Mirror, a competitor to News of the World and other News Corp. publications, an unnamed private investigator and former New York City police officer alleged reporters at the newspaper offered to pay him to retrieve private phone records of victims of the 9/11 attacks.
The private investigator turned down the assignment, the Mirror said, citing an unnamed source.
The hacking allegations represent an “offensive and serious breach of journalistic ethics” that raises questions about whether New York broke U.S. law,’’ Rockefeller said in his statement.
Politicians from Britain’s three major parties, including Prime Minister David Cameron, have called on News Corp. to drop its bid to purchase all of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, as authorities investigate the phone-hacking and bribery allegations.
Teri Everett, a spokeswoman for New York-based News Corp., didn’t respond to an e-mailed request for comment.
Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with News Corp. units in providing financial news and information.