Brooks, Coulson charged in UK hacking scandal
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British authorities on Tuesday charged an ex-aide to the prime minister, a former protege of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and six others in the ever-widening phone hacking scandal, accusing them of key roles in a campaign of illegal espionage that victimized hundreds of people including several top celebrities.
The announcement was a major development in a saga that has shaken Britain's establishment and shows no sign of winding down. Police said earlier this week they are probing new newspapers and dozens of fresh allegations.
The Crown Prosecution Service's Alison Levitt on Tuesday announced that Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks - both former editors of Murdoch's now-shuttered News of the World tabloid - were among those being charged with conspiring to intercept the communications of more than 600 people between 2000 and 2006.
"There is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to one or more offenses," Levitt said. In Britain, the penalty for illegally intercepting communications is up to two years in prison and a fine. Coulson and Brooks, who had previously been charged in related cases, have both denied any wrongdoing.
Six other senior former News of the World journalists and staff, including the former managing editor, have also been charged.
Among the alleged victims were two former home secretaries (interior ministers), former England soccer manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, former Beatle Paul McCartney and a minor member of the royal family.
Brooks and Coulson are also accused of involvement in hacking the telephone of Milly Dowler, a missing schoolgirl who was later found murdered in 2002.
The saga has also tarnished the reputation of many whom, like British Olympics Secretary Jeremy Hunt, were sympathetic to News Corp.'s interests.
Brooks and Coulson and promised on Tuesday to fight the charges.
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