FBI inquiry of Murdoch's empire: reliance on Brits

By PETE YOST | July 24, 2011 | 10:43 AM EDT

News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch enters the News Corp. building, Friday, July 22, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is starting up a preliminary review of whether alleged phone hacking and bribery by Rupert Murdoch's media empire violated U.S. laws.

But any resolution may well have to await the outcome of British investigations.

The FBI's fact-gathering could take years to play out and could test the long-standing cooperation between top U.S. and British law enforcement agencies.

Most of the records and witnesses to prove or disprove the allegations are in the hands of British investigators.

The FBI probe in this country could turn in unexpected directions, threatening other Murdoch properties, which include the Fox television network.

Murdoch's News Corp. is assembling a gold-plate roster of defense lawyers.