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FBI director says US paid over $1 million to hack iPhone, adds it was ‘worth it’

FBI Director James Comey.
FBI Director James Comey. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON – FBI Director James Comey hinted at an event in London on Thursday that the FBI paid more than $1 million to break into the locked iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers.

Comey was asked during a question-and-answer session at an Aspen Security Forum event how much the FBI paid for the method from an unidentified third-party to access the phone.

READ MORE: FBI says using third parties to break encryption not only answer

He did not give a precise number but said it was “more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure.”

Comey’s annual salary as of January 2015 was $183,300. According to his remarks, the FBI likely paid over $1 million to hack the suspect’s phone.

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He added that he thought the payment was “worth it.”

The Justice Department last month revealed that an entity outside the government had approached it with a method that could be used to open the phone used by Syed Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people in the December attacks before dying in a police shootout.

READ MORE: #UnlockJustice: NYPD’s anti-encryption campaign fails epically

The revelation came after a federal magistrate had directed Apple Inc. to help the FBI hack into the phone. The FBI had said that it wanted access to the phone as part of its investigation into the attacks.

Federal officials have said that the method from the third party was successful, though they haven’t publicly revealed what it entailed.

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