Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dow Jones. White Powder Is Harmless!

By Robert MacMillan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - White powder in about a dozen envelopes sent to Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones executives turned out to be harmless, the New York Police Department said on Wednesday.

The letters contained flour or another food-based substance, police spokesman Paul Browne told Reuters. He said that such letters often are hoaxes.

The envelopes went to Journal Managing Editor Robert Thomson, Dow Jones & Co Chief Executive Les Hinton and Journal Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Dow Jones is a unit of Rupert Murdoch's international media conglomerate News Corp, and owns the Journal.

About 10 more envelopes turned up in the Journal's mail room, spokesman Robert Christie said earlier in the day. The envelopes were sent from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Dow Jones evacuated two floors of its lower Manhattan headquarters. Five employees were quarantined and later released, according to an employee memo from human resources chief Gregory Giangrande.

The building is on Liberty Street, close to the Ground Zero site where the World Trade Center stood before it was attacked and destroyed on September 11, 2001.

U.S. authorities have been on alert for mail with white powder in it since 2001 when envelopes laced with anthrax were sent to media outlets and U.S. lawmakers, killing five people.

In October, letters containing white powder were sent to Chase bank offices and two other financial institutions in several states. They also were sent to The New York Times headquarters in New York and to Thomson Reuters Corp's Reuters newsroom in New York.

The letters sent to the financial institutions warned "it's payback time," according to text released by the FBI.

(Reporting by Robert MacMillan; Additional reporting by Christine Kearney and Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Andre Grenon, Maureen Bavdek)

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