Justice Department cracks iPhone; withdraws legal action

March 28, 2016
FILE - This Feb. 17, 2016 file photos an iPhone is seen in Washington. The dispute over whether Apple must help the FBI hack into a terror suspect's iPhone is about to play out in a Southern California courtroom. The hearing Tuesday, March 22, in U.S. District Court in Riverside is the first in the battle that has seen Cook and FBI Director James Comey spar over issues of privacy and national security. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster,File)

FILE – This Feb. 17, 2016 file photos an iPhone is seen in Washington. The dispute over whether Apple must help the FBI hack into a terror suspect’s iPhone is about to play out in a Southern California courtroom. The hearing Tuesday, March 22, in U.S. District Court in Riverside is the first in the battle that has seen Cook and FBI Director James Comey spar over issues of privacy and national security. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster,File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI says 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 died in a gun battle with police after killing 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December.

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.

Apple did not immediately comment on the development.

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