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U.S. Senator: News Corp. May Have Hacked 9/11 Victims' Phones, Investigation Called

Rupert Murdoch
Ben Gurr/Getty Images

Senator Jay Rockefeller calls the allegations "offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics."

Jay Rockefeller said the widening phone hacking scandal "raises serious questions about whether the company has broken U.S. law."

The widening phone hacking scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch's U.K.-based News International has officially reached U.S. soil.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee, asked authorities to investigate whether victims of the 9/11 attacks were targeted by Murdoch's newspapers.

"The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individuals, including children, is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics," said Rockefeller in a statement. "This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken U.S. law. I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated."

The rival U.K. newspaper The Daily Mirror reported that journalists from the now-shuttered News of the World attempted to pay a former New York City police officer for personal information - including cell phone numbers - of 9/11 victims.

Rockefeller warned that there would be "serious consequences" if that turns out to be the case. British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to investigate the claim.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that News Corp. is considering options amid the fallout from the phone hacking scandal, including revisiting a potential sale of its U.K. newspaper division.

The conglomerate recently informally explored whether a sale would draw potential buyers for The Sun, The Times of London and The Sunday Times, but the weak financials of the newspaper business meant there was no apparent buyer, according to the Journal. But it said that News Corp. could revisit the idea of selling or spinning off News International in the next six months amid the phone hacking woes. Murdoch son and News Corp. deputy COO James Murdoch has been among those frustrated by the U.K. papers and pushing for a sale, the Journal said. But father Rupert's love of newspapers has so far kept the papers within the conglomerate.