Phone-hacking: US senator calls for News Corp probe

 

Senator Robert Menendez: "If it was true it would be pretty outrageous"

A key US senator has called for an investigation into whether reported hacking by News Corporation targeted any US citizens.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller said the authorities should consider whether journalists working for the media giant had broken US law.

He warned of "serious consequences" should that be found to be the case.

The 168-year-old News of the World shut down on Sunday after numerous accusations of phone hacking.

Other papers owned by Rupert Murdoch have faced similar allegations.

Mr Rockefeller, a Democrat, was the first major voice in the US Congress to call for an investigation into the scandal, which has gripped Britain.

The BBC's Steve Kingstone in Washington says these are the first signs that the hacking story is extending across the Atlantic.

'Breach of ethics'

In a written statement, Mr Rockefeller said he was concerned that hacking by News Corporation journalists may have extended to American targets, including victims of the 11 September attacks.

He did not present any evidence to support that claim, but called on the authorities to look into any possible wrong-doing.

"I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated," he said.

"The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individuals - including children - is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics. This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken US law," he said.

Mr Murdoch's American assets include Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Harper Collins publishers.

Parliamentary motion

In the UK, News Corporation has been under mounting pressure to scrap its bid for a full takeover of TV giant BSkyB - in which it already owns a 39.1% share - since new phone-hacking allegations about the News of the World emerged last week.

Later on Wednesday, British MPs will be asked to vote on an opposition Labour Party motion that "this House believes that it is in the public interest for Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation to withdraw its bid for BSkyB".

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is also expected to make a statement to MPs on the nature of an inquiry into the hacking allegations.

Mr Murdoch has now been asked to appear in front of British MPs to answer questions on the issue, while police on Tuesday accused his newspapers of blocking their original investigations in 2006.

 

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