Throughout Apple’s fight with the FBI over unlocking an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino gunmen, many have doubted the likelihood that there’s anything valuable on the device to begin with. The iPhone 5c used by the gunman was issued by the County of San Bernardino, which gives iPhones to all of its employees. Now, the husband to a survivor of the fatal attacks has spoken out and written a letter, obtained by BuzzFeed, to the court explaining that there is likely nothing of note on the iPhone in question.
Salihin Kondoker is the husband of Anies Kondoker who was shot three times during the attacks last December, but was able to survive despite a “very difficult path to recovery.” In his letter to the court, Kondoker explained that his wife also had an iPhone issued by the County and that because it was a work phone, she did not use it for any sort of personal communication.
Kondoker explained that the County had control over every aspect of the device. They tracked it in case they needed to see where people were, they controlled the iCloud account, and they controlled the carrier account. This was “common knowledge” to all employees, Kondoker explained, leading him to question why the attackers would use the device to store sensitive information.
“This was a work phone. My wife also had an iPhone issued by the County and she did not use it for any personal communication. San Bernardino is one of the largest Counties in the country. They can track the phone on GPS in case they needed to determine where people were. Second, both the iCloud account and carrier account were controlled by the county so they could track any communications. This was common knowledge among my wife and other employees.
Why then would someone store vital contacts related to an attack on a phone they knew the county had access to? They destroyed their personal phones after the attack. And I believe they did that for a reason. In my opinion it is unlikely there is any valuable information on this phone.”
Kondoker went on to explain that he believes the FBI had and still has access to a variety of information that it has ignored. “I’m very disappointed in the way they’ve handled this investigation,” Kondoker stated. Apple itself even hinted at an FBI screwup two weeks ago, saying that the Apple ID password to the iPhone was changed shortly after the device went into government possession.
The FBI has wavered on its beliefs as to whether or not the iPhone 5c in question holds any information of value. “Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists,” FBI Director James Comey has stated. “Maybe it doesn’t. But we can’t look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don’t follow this lead.” San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan also stated that there’s a “good chance that there is nothing of value on the phone.”
Kondoker concludes by saying that he supports Apple in its fight for privacy and hopes that the court will too. “America should be proud of Apple. Proud that it is an American company and we should protect them and not try to tear them down,” Kondoker wrote. “I support them in this case and I hope the court will too.”