Justice Department cracks iPhone; withdraws legal action

New York police officers stand outside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue while monitoring a demonstration, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in New York. Protesters assembled in more than 30 cities around the world to lash out at the FBI for obtaining a court order that requires Apple to make it easier to unlock an encrypted iPhone used by a gunman in December's mass murders in California. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

WASHINGTON, DC (WPRI) — 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.

Apple did not immediately comment on the development.

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.

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