Apple Refuses To Unlock Pensacola Shooting Suspect’s Phone, Defies Attorney General Barr’s Request

'We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation,' the company said in a statement.

Attorney General William Barr (C) speaks during a press conference on the shooting at the Pensacola naval base
Win McNamee / Getty Images

'We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation,' the company said in a statement.

Apple has declined Attorney General William Barr’s request to unlock the iPhone belonging to Pensacola Naval Base shooting suspect Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, CNBC reports. The company says it has provided “gigabytes of information” to the feds regarding what they know about the suspect, but they refuse to give investigators access to his phone.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, on December 6, 2019, Alshamrani, one of several Saudi military members attending training at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, allegedly opened fire and killed three people and injured eight others, before being shot and killed by law enforcement.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) deemed the incident an act of terrorism, fueled by jihadist ideology.

The Justice Department, under the leadership of Attorney General William Barr, has asked for Apple’s help in investigating the alleged gunman, up to and including being given a “backdoor” to unlock his phone. Apple claims that the company has cooperated with law enforcement as best it can, up to and including giving investigators “gigabytes of information.” But the company admits it will stop short at giving the feds access to his phone.

Specifically, the tech giant has provided investigators with “iCloud backups, account information, and transactional data for multiple accounts” at law enforcement requests. However, the company says that there is no “back door” to unlock his phone nor will there ever be one on any phone.

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 06: A general view of the atmosphere at the Pensacola Naval Air Station following a shooting on December 06, 2019 in Pensacola, Florida. The second shooting on a U.S. Naval Base in a week has left three dead plus the suspect and seven people wounded. (Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images)
  Josh Brasted / Getty Images

The tech giant insists, as it has for years, that providing a “back door” for law enforcement to unlock the phones of criminal suspects opens the door to the process being exploited by hackers.

“We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers,” the company said in a statement.

It’s the same stance the company took in 2016, when it refused to unlock a phone belonging to one of the suspects in the San Bernardino shooting. In that case, however, the company’s refusal to unlock the suspect’s phone was ultimately moot, as the FBI was able to access the phone without Apple’s help.

Attorney General Barr, for his part, insists that Apple specifically, and technology companies broadly, have a moral duty to provide law enforcement with a way to access user devices.

“We call on Apple and other technology companies to help us find a solution so that we can better protect the lives of Americans and prevent future attacks,” he said.