A Florida county sheriff has threatened to arrest Apple CEO Tim Cook, were a situation to arise similar to Apple’s resistance to government pressure in the ongoing San Bernardino terrorism investigation.
Last month, the government obtained an unprecedented court order under the All Writs Act, an obscure 18th-century statute, which would compel Apple to help. If the order stands up to legal challenges, Apple would be forced to create a new customized iOS firmware that would remove the passcode lockout on the seized iPhone 5C. Apple has said both publicly and in court filings that it will fight the order as much as possible, and the company has drawn support from many cryptographers, tech companies, and even the husband of a survivor of the attack.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday that was published by FOX 13, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd described a recent murder case that his office had worked on. Judd said that the murder suspects took photos of their victim on their smartphones, but then later gave detectives the passcodes to unlock their phones.
However, when Judd was asked about Appleâ€™s refusal to help create a custom-firmware that would allow the FBI to brute force the seized iPhone 5C from San Bernardino, the sheriff did not mince words.
“You cannot create a business model to go, ‘We’re not paying attention to the federal judge or the state judge. You see, we’re above the law,'” Judd said. “The CEO of Apple needs to know he’s not above the law, and neither is anybody else in the United States.”
He noted that if his agency were to face locked iPhones in the future, it may result in Cook being put behind bars, presumably under a contempt of court order.
“But believe you me, if I get a toe hold in this county and I can get the state attorney’s office to prosecute, and a judge to back us up with it, I’ll lock the rascal up,” Judd concluded.
Apple did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.