March 11, 2016 / 12:09 AM / 3 years ago

Apple lawyer says U.S. Justice Dept attempting to 'smear' company

3D printed Apple logo are seen in front of a displayed cyber code in this illustration taken February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Apple accused the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday of trying to “smear” the company by trafficking in “desperate” and “unsubstantiated” claims in its ongoing quest to force the company to help unlock an encrypted iPhone linked to one of the San Bernardino, California shooters.

“The tone of the brief reads like an indictment,” Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell told reporters on a press call, referring to a response filing the Justice Department submitted earlier on Thursday that accused Apple of making “false” statements.

The new filing relies on thinly sourced news reports to inaccurately suggest that Apple had colluded with the Chinese government to undermine buyers’ security, Sewell said.

Reporting by Dustin Volz and Joseph Menn

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