In his first public remarks since Apple CEO Tim Cook said he would fight the federal magistrate's order, Comey said the Justice Department's request is simply about gaining access to the locked phone.
"We don't want to break anyone's encryption or set a master key loose on the land," Comey said in a posting that appeared on the site late yesterday.
Investigators want to hack into an iPhone belonging to the late Syed Farook, a US citizen who along with his wife Tashfeen Malik went on a shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California that killed 14 people on December 2.
Apple claims that cooperating with the FBI probe would undermine overall security for its devices. 'The San Bernardino litigation isn't about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message," Comey said. "It is about the victims and justice.'
According to Comey, the 'particular legal issue is actually quite narrow... We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist's passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That's it. The phone may or may not hold important clues. 'But we can't look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don't follow this lead,' he wrote.