FBI defends decision to withhold information about how it cracked terrorist iPhone

FILE – In this Feb. 17, 2016 file photo of an iPhone is seen in Washington. The FBI is defending its decision to withhold the information about how to unlock a iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters.


WASHINGTON – The FBI on Monday defended her decision to withhold documents about how to unlock a iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters, say the information could be misused by “hostile entities” as published.

The Ministry of Justice earlier this month released heavily censored records in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The Associated Press, Vice Media, and Gannett, the parent company of USA Today. Among the information withheld were details about how much the FBI paid last year to a third party for the unlock of the phone work of Syed Rizwan Farook, who together with his wife killed 14 people at a holiday party in December 2015, as well as the identity of that entity.

In a court filing Monday sought to justify those of the editors, the Department of Justice argued that the information remember, if released, can be taken advantage of by “hostile entities” that could develop their own “countermeasures”, and interfering with the FBI and intelligence gathering by discovering the possibilities and limitations of those methods. The government also argued that the words “would result in serious damage to the FBI’s efforts to detect and arrest violators of the United States’ national security and criminal law by means of these activities and methods.”

“The withheld information is specifically in the nature, on condition that, for a certain period of time, and it is known that very few people”, Ministry of Justice, lawyers said.

The FBI broadened the legal arguments which he had used earlier this month, when it released about 100 pages of heavily edited documents. In the quest to the keep of 23 additional pages are completely secret, the FBI said for the first time that the national security is in danger and that the records are entirely exempt from disclosure under the law.

The Obama administration had imposed a “foreseeable harm” standard for withholding records under the Freedom of Information Act, saying that “openness” in the face of the doubt, and that “speculative or abstract fears” are not sufficient for withholding of documents.

The media organizations sued in September to learn how much the FBI paid and who is hired to break into the phone of Farook. The FBI for weeks had claimed that only Apple Inc. could access the information on her phone, which is secured by means of encryption, but eventually broke or circumvented Apple’s digital locks with the help of an unnamed third party.

In the reports of this month, the FBI censored the critical details that would have demonstrated how much the FBI paid for, who it hired and how it opened the phone. The files are marked as “secret” before they were enabled in the context of the lawsuit.

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