DOJ withdraws request for Apple's help to access iPhone owned by drug dealer

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How did FBI get hackers to access terrorist's iPhone?

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Story highlights

  • DOJ: Apple's help no longer needed because we now have the passcode
  • DEA wants to check Brooklyn drug dealer's iPhone for leads

(CNN)The feds have opened another iPhone, but this time using a passcode.

The Justice Department withdrew a request for Apple's help accessing a Brooklyn drug dealer's iPhone after someone gave them the passcode.
    "An individual provided the department with the passcode to the locked phone at issue in the Eastern District of New York," Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi said in a statement.
    "Because we now have access to the data we sought, we notified the court of this recent development and have withdrawn our request for assistance."
    The identity of the individual who provided the information was not revealed.
    At issue is an iPhone 5C belonging to Jun Feng, a New York methamphetamine dealer.
    After his arrest, Feng cut a deal with prosecutors, and the Drug Enforcement Administration got a search warrant to look through his phone for tips on customers and other dealers.
    The DEA wanted Apple's help getting into the phone, but the company refused.
    Acquiescing to the government's request would undermine security in its phones, Apple said. It insisted that it has been pressured by federal law enforcement agents to break into iPhones in at least 13 instances in the United States.
    In February, a Federal magistrate-judge sided with Apple, ruling that the company could not be forced to hack into Feng's iPhone. Judge James Orenstein said law enforcement was inappropriately trying to use powers that had not been granted by Congress.
    But the Department of Justice kept the pressure on -- on April 8, Federal Prosecutor Robert Capers again requested Apple's help accessing Feng's phone.
    In his legal filing, Capers argued that Apple's cooperation was necessary because the DEA could not use the same method used by the FBI to access the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter.
    Now that the DEA has the passcode, the Justice Department has dropped its request for Apple's assistance.
    "As we have said previously, these cases have never been about setting a court precedent," Raimondi said. "They are about law enforcement's ability and need to access evidence on devices pursuant to lawful court orders and search warrants."