LONDON – Britain’s phone hacking scandal took a dramatic turn Tuesday with the filing of criminal charges against eight people, including a onetime confidant of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and a former senior aide to Prime Minister David Cameron.
Prosecutors announced that Rebekah Brooks, who ran Murdoch’s British newspapers, and Andy Coulson, who served as Cameron’s communications adviser, were among those charged with illegally tapping into the cellphones of celebrities, politicians and other public figures while working at the now-shuttered News of the World tabloid.
Over a six-year period starting in the fall of 2000, Brooks, Coulson and five of the other suspects conspired to break into the phones of more than 600 people, prosecutor Alison Levitt said. The eighth suspect, a private investigator hired by the paper, was not charged with respect to the entire six-year period but does stand accused of tapping into the phones of specific individuals during that time.
On the list of victims: actors Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Jude Law, singer Paul McCartney, soccer player Wayne Rooney and at least one Cabinet minister.
Morsi makes unheralded bureaucrat prime minister
CAIRO – Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi surprised the nation Tuesday by naming an obscure bureaucrat as his new prime minister to form a government that will likely be held in check by military leaders during an unsteady transition to democracy.
The appointment of Hesham Kandil, water minister under the outgoing military-appointed Cabinet, kept with Morsi’s vow that his prime minister would not come from the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party. Morsi, who ran as a Brotherhood candidate, is under pressure from secularists and Christians not to choose a government dominated by Islamists.
But the untested Kandil faces enormous challenges. The country is beset by financial problems, sharpening political divisions, religious mistrust and the tight grip of a cadre of generals, which controls legislative powers and has limited the authority of the president. The choice was a gamble for Morsi, whose credibility will hinge on how quickly Kandil’s unity government can finesse political compromises and stem unemployment, inflation and low wages.
Magnitude 6.6 earthquake kills a man in Indonesia
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia – A powerful earthquake jolted western Indonesia early today, killing a man and sending panicked residents fleeing from homes in towns and villages across Sumatra island’s northern tip. No tsunami was generated and there were no reports of damage.
The magnitude 6.6 quake hit about 7:30 a.m. local time and was centered 17 miles northwest of Aceh province’s Sinabang town, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho from the National Disaster Management Agency said a 70-year-old man who was suffering from hypertension died as he fled in panic and fell down, but there were no other casualties reported and no reports of damage.
Suharjono, from Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysic agency, said the earthquake had no potential to generate a tsunami.