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NEW YORK — During the boardroom leak investigation that’s forcing the chairwoman of Hewlett-Packard Co. to step aside, the company explored the feasibility of planting spies in the offices of two news organizations, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Citing an anonymous individual knowledgeable about HP’s investigation techniques, the Times said that in February, senior HP management was briefed on the possibility that investigators could pose as clerical or custodial employees in the San Francisco offices of CNET Networks Inc. and The Wall Street Journal. It was unclear whether the plan was carried out. A spokesman for Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, declined to comment Wednesday. Messages seeking comment from CNET weren’t immediately returned. U.S. and California prosecutors are conducting criminal investigations of HP’s use of deceptive tactics to obtain phone records belonging to directors, employees and journalists in an effort to root out a boardroom leaker. The scandal has led to the resignation of two directors and prompted Chairwoman Patricia Dunn to step down, although she plans to remain on the board after the change on Jan. 18. Dunn and HP’s general counsel are scheduled to testify next week before a Congressional panel investigating the affair. The committee will also hear from Hewlett-Packard’s outside lawyer, Larry Sonsini, who had defended the investigatory tactics as “not generally unlawful.” A private investigator who helped carry out HP’s probe has been asked to appear but might invoke his Fifth Amendment right and refuse to answer questions.

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