A Democratic state attorney general Tuesday offered support for Attorney General William P. Barr’s demand that Apple assist the Justice Department in unlocking the iPhones belonging to the Saudi Air Force cadet who killed three people last month in a terror attack at a Florida Navy base.
Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings said it was “unfathomable” that tech companies won’t do more to help law enforcement investigations.
“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, a Democrat, said at the Justice Department’s summit on combatting human trafficking.
Sean Reyes, Republican Attorney General for Utah, pushed back saying Apple has been supportive of investigations in his state.
“Apple has been a great partner,” he said. “They’ve empowered us with a lot of resources to do our job.”
Timothy Shea, counselor to Mr. Barr, responded to Mr. Reyes’ defense of the tech company with a sarcastic remark, drawing laughs from the audience.
“We look forward to their cooperation, for sure,” Mr. Shea said dryly.
The remarks came one day after Mr. Barr made a public appeal to Apple to unlock two iPhones belonging to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who carried out the December 6 rampage at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.
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.
“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.”
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