Senate Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) sent a letter on Wednesday to the UK’s Leveson Inquiry asking whether there is any evidence News International broke U.S. laws in the course of its phone hacking.
“I would like to know whether any of the evidence you are reviewing suggests that these unethical and sometimes illegal business practices occurred in the United States or involved U.S. citizens,” Rockefeller wrote.
The senator’s letter came a day after a harsh UK parliamentary report on News International’s — News Corp’s British newspaper arm — phone hacking practices. The report ultimately concluded that the company’s chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, is “not a fit person” to run an international media company.
Those following the hacking scandal closely believe that the select committee’s report raises the chances that the FBI and DOJ — already looking into News Corp. — will more rigorously pursue cases in the U.S.
Mark Lewis — a British lawyer representing the family of Milly Dowler, a teenage murder victim whose phone was hacked — is looking into potential lawsuits in the U.S., but he has yet to file anything. Meanwhile, News Corporation’s board of directors on Wednesday issued a unanimous statement of support for Murdoch.
In the letter to Leveson acknowledging as many of 5,000 “potential” phone hacking victims, Rockefeller wrote that he is “concerned about the possibility that some of these undisclosed victims are U.S. citizens, and the possibility that telephone networks under the jurisdiction of U.S. laws were used to intercept their voice mail messages.”
Rockefeller concluded his letter by asking if there is any evidence that News Corporation officials were aware of News International’s egregious activities. Murdoch has been somewhat sheltered from the scandal as it unfolds across the Atlantic from his home and corporate headquarters. But Rockefeller’s letter is evidence that things may be heating up for the media mogul at home.
Read the full letter below:
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com