Justice Department cracks iPhone; withdraws legal action

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A method to bypass the locking function of a San Bernardino terrorist’s phone has proved successful, a federal law enforcement official said. | AP file

WASHINGTON — The FBI said it successfully used a mysterious technique without Apple’s help to break into an iPhone linked to the gunman in a California mass shooting.

The surprise development effectively ends a pitched court battle between Apple and the Obama administration.

The government told a federal court Monday without any details that it accessed data on gunman Syed Farook’s iPhone and no longer requires Apple’s assistance. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, died in a gun battle with police after killing 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December.

Apple did not immediately comment on the development.

A U.S. magistrate last month ordered Apple to provide the FBI with software to help it hack into Farook’s work-issued iPhone. The order touched off a debate pitting digital privacy rights against national security concerns.

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