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San Bernardino's top cop says it's likely 'there is nothing of any value' on iPhone the FBI wants Apple to crack

The work-issued iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terrorist attack likely has "nothing of any value" saved on it, the police chief of the town has admitted in a new interview, though he still believes Apple should help the FBI crack into the encrypted handset.


The makeshift memorial which appeared in San Bernardino following the shooting.


"I'll be honest with you, I think that there is a reasonably good chance that there is nothing of any value on the phone," San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said in an interview with NPR on Friday. "What we are hoping might be on the phone would be potential contacts that we would obviously want to talk to."

Burguan admitted he owns an iPhone and an iPad, and considers himself a "fan" of Apple products. But he also said law enforcement has an obligation to "leave no stone unturned" in their investigation of the attack, and not making an effort would be unfair to the victims and their families.

It's also possible, though he admitted it's unlikely, that the iPhone 5c in question could have details on a larger terrorist network or potential plots for future attacks.

"The probability is low, but it could be," Burguan said.

A U.S. magistrate judge has ordered Apple to comply with FBI requests to help extract data owned by one of the shooters involved in the December terrorist attack. Apple says it can't do that without creating a backdoor to its secure iOS platform — something the company is unwilling to do.

Thanks to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. government publicizing the dispute, the battle between Apple and the FBI has spilled over to the court of public opinion. A war of words has broken out, led by Apple CEO Tim Cook and FBI director James Comey, in which each side is working to paint the other as unreasonable.