POLITICS

Eric Holder, Attorney General, Reaches Out To 9/11 Victims' Families Over Hacking Scandal

07/19/2011 07:34 pm ET | Updated Sep 18, 2011

Attorney General Eric Holder is willing to meet the families of people killed in the September 11 attacks who are concerned about reports that News Corp journalists may have tried to get victims' phone records, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been looking into a report by Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper that reporters with the rival News of the World offered to pay a New York police officer for private phone records of some victims of the al Qaeda attacks on the United States in 2001.

The Mirror report, citing an unidentified source, has yet to be independently verified but already has fueled U.S. emotions over the wider phone hacking scandal that has consumed Britain and rocked Rupert Murdoch's News Corp media empire.

New York attorney Normal Siegel, who represents September 11 family members in three legal cases, sent letters on Monday requesting meetings with Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller and U.S. Representative John Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

"The Attorney General has met with 9/11 family members on a number of occasions and would welcome the opportunity to meet with them to discuss any concerns they would like to bring to the department's attention," said spokesman Matthew Miller.

A U.S. law enforcement official told Reuters on Monday there was no basis so far for police in New York to open an investigation into the claims.

During an inquiry by members of Britain's Parliament in London on Tuesday, Murdoch said there was nothing to suggest his reporters had hacked the phones of September 11 victims.

"We have no evidence of that at all," he said.

His son James Murdoch, News Corp's deputy chief operating officer, told the inquiry it would be appalling if such actions took place.

"Those are incredibly serious allegations and they have come to light very recently," he said. "We do not know the veracity of those allegations and are trying to understand precisely what they are and any investigations."

Murdoch shut his top-selling Sunday newspaper, the 168-year-old tabloid News of the World, as a result of the hacking scandal. He also dropped a strategically important buyout bid for broadcaster BSkyB.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington and Daniel Trotta in New York; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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