Apple case: judge rejects FBI request for access to drug dealer’s iPhone

A federal judge on Monday rejected an FBI request to order Apple to open the iPhone of a drug dealer in a major setback to the US government’s increasingly heated efforts to force the company to help unlock an iPhone used by a San Bernardino terrorist.

The ruling late on Monday by magistrate judge James Orenstein rejected the US Justice Department’s attempt to gain access to the iPhone of accused crystal meth dealer Jun Feng, whose case is ongoing, though Feng has pleaded guilty. He will be sentenced in April.

The ruling comes just hours before Apple and justice department officials are set to clash in Congress over a court ruling calling on Apple to weaken the password protection of an iPhone belonging to San Bernardino killer Syed Farook.

Apple has called the move “unconstitutional” while the Justice Department has dismissed the company’s concerns as a marketing stunt and argued it endangers lives by leaving law enforcement blind.

“It is still our hope that they will see their way clear to complying with that order as thousands of other companies do every day,” attorney general Loretta Lynch told Fox News on Monday.

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