- The Washington Times
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

President Trump Tuesday called on Apple to unlock the iPhones belonging to the Saudi Air Force cadet who killed three people last month in a terror attack at a Florida Navy base.

Mr. Trump said the government has helped Apple through trade negotiations and now it’s time for the tech giant to return the favor.

“We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great country, NOW! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” the president tweeted Tuesday night.

Mr. Trump’s comments came one day after Attorney General William Barr escalated the government’s fight with Apple in an ongoing battle for access to criminals’ iPhones.

At a press conference Monday, Mr. Barr urged Apple to give law enforcement access to two iPhones belonging to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the gunman in a shooting rampage at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.

Mr. Barr criticized the tech giant, saying it has not provided “substantial assistance” in a terror investigation.

“This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that the public be able to get access to digital evidence,” Mr. Barr said.

Apple has denied Mr. Barr’s request to unlock the phones, citing privacy concerns. The tech giant said it is helping the investigation in other ways.

“We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation,” the company said in a statement. “Our responses to their many requests since the attack have been timely, thorough and are ongoing.”

Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings, a Democrat, said Tuesday it was “unfathomable” that tech companies won’t do more to help law enforcement.

“It is unfathomable to me that if I am investigating or prosecuting a first-degree murder case or investigating a child abduction case … and there is probable cause to get into the phone we ought to get into the phone,” Ms. Jennings said at the Justice Department’s summit on combating human trafficking.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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