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Apple's angry response to the Department of Justice: a 'cheap shot' that's 'intended to smear the other side'

As expected, the Department of Justice filed a legal response on Thursday to Apple’s refusal to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

An hour after the DOJ brief was filed, Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell delivered a tense and angry response in a conference call with reporters. 

Sewell called the DOJ response a “cheap shot” and said that its tone “reads like an indictment.” 

“In 30 years of practice I don’t think I’ve ever seen a legal brief more intended to smear the other side,” Sewell said. 

While Sewell’s comment isn’t an official legal response, it certainly underscores that the battle between the two sides has become more heated and emotional as the debate drags on. 

An Apple attorney actually advised that the company thought the battle was getting less heated after Sewell and FBI director James Comey testified before Congress earlier this month, but was disappointed when it saw the official DOJ legal response.

Of course, the DOJ brief had some severe language, calling Apple’s rhetoric “false” and “corrosive.” 

“Apple’s rhetoric is not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights: the courts, the Fourth Amendment, longstanding precedent and venerable laws, and the democratically elected branches of government,” the brief reads. 

On March 22, Apple and the FBI will meet at a hearing in federal court in Riverside, California. 

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