Justice Dept. files motion demanding Apple helps FBI unlock phone

Apple still has until February 26 to respond to the order.

The US Dept. of Justice has asked a court to compel Apple to comply with an order to help the FBI unlock a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

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(Image: file photo)

First reported by ABC News, the motion filed by prosecutors on Friday criticizes Apple for publicly refusing to comply with the order, filed earlier this week.

"Rather than assist the effort to fully investigate a deadly terrorist attack by obeying this court's [previous order], Apple has responded by publicly repudiating that order," read the motion.

Prosecutors said the device may have "crucial evidence" about the terrorist attack in California on December 2.

Syed Farook, along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and injured dozens in the shooting attack.

Friday's motion said the Justice Dept. wanted Apple's help to access the device to determine who the terrorists may have communicated with prior to the attacks, where they traveled to and from, and "other pertinent information."

Judge Sheri Pym ruled earlier this week that Apple must provide a custom version of the phone's software, which would help agents enter the iPhone's password without the device wiping its contents after numerous failed attempts.

The court ruling did not order Apple to break the encryption, but said it should offer "reasonable technical assistance" to law enforcement.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said hours after the order was made public that the company would oppose the order, which he called a "dangerous precedent" that "has implications far beyond the legal case at hand."

Apple is expected to formally appeal the order, which, based on the legal precedent that it sets, could make its way up to the Supreme Court.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Justice Dept. did not return a call Friday.

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