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Murdochs Will Testify Before Parliamentary Panel; FBI Now Investigating

Rupert Murdoch as he left his apartment in London on Tuesday.
Oli Scarff
Getty Images
Rupert Murdoch as he left his apartment in London on Tuesday.

In a reversal, Rupert Murdoch and his son James said they would testify before a British Parliamentary panel next week. The panel is looking into the phone hacking scandal that has the Murdoch media empire in disarray. First, it precipitated the closure of News Of The World and, yesterday, as Mark reported, Murdoch announced he was abandoning his bid to fully acquire British cable broadcaster BskyB.

NPR's David Folkenflik reports from London:

Initially, both Murdochs had declined to appear at a parliamentary committee hearing next Tuesday. The panel is looking into the knowledge of top News Corp executives about the allegedly widespread practices of hacking into cell phone voicemails and bribing police officers for information. Rupert Murdoch said he'd cooperate but not testify and James Murdoch offered to appear instead in August. Now they say they will both join Rebeka Brooks, their top British newspaper executive and a former editor of the tabloid at the heart of the scandal, in testifying before the committee.

Yesterday, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the Security and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro to look into whether News Corp. broke any U.S. laws.

The Atlantic reports:

"The allegations, if true, may constitute a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corrupt payments intended to influence any act or decision of a foreign official," Rockefeller and Boxer wrote in a joint statement.

"The reported allegations against News Corporation are very serious and indicate potentially thousands of victims and a pattern of illegal activity. It important to ensure that no United States laws were broken and no United States citizens were victimized."

Update at 3:25 p.m. ET. FBI Is Now Investigating:

The AP and the BBC are reporting that the FBI is investigating allegations that News Corp. tried to hack into the phones of Sept. 11 victims.

The AP reports:

The decision to investigate was made after U.S. Rep. Peter King, a Republican, wrote FBI Director Robert Mueller demanding an investigation, said the official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly. The FBI had received letters from King and other members of Congress.

Update at 4:10 p.m. ET. At An Early Stage:

NPR's Carrie Johnson says a law enforcement source tells her that the FBI inquiry is at an early stage and that investigators are not making any predictions about the outcome. Carrie adds:

The FBI inquiry is operating out of the Southern District of New York and it will be supervised by prosecutors there, the law enforcement source says. The investigation is much farther advanced in London, where a seventh person has been arrested in connection with the scandal.

Here's Carrie's audio report:

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.