Tim Cook on FBI fight: Apple has no 'sympathy for terrorists'

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DOJ, Apple in War of Words Over San Bernardino Attacker's iPhone

Apple chief executive Tim Cook defended his company's position in its fight with the government in a letter to employees Monday, amid an escalating war of words with the FBI and the Department of Justice.

"Over the past week I've received messages from thousands of people in all 50 states, and the overwhelming majority are writing to voice their strong support," Cook wrote. "One email was from a 13-year-old app developer who thanked us for standing up for 'all future generations.' And a 30-year Army veteran told me, 'Like my freedom, I will always consider my privacy as a treasure.'"

On Sunday evening, Comey argued in a post on the website Lawfare that the FBI's request -- that Apple disable functions on San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook's iPhone so that agents can try passwords until they get access -- is narrow and limited to the one device.

Read reaction to the battle between the FBI and Apple:

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FBI battles with Apple over San Bernardino shooters' iPhone, social reax
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Tim Cook on FBI fight: Apple has no 'sympathy for terrorists'
This is the most important tech case in a decade. Silence means @google picked a side, but it's not the public's. https://t.co/mi5irJcr25
I stand with Apple on privacy and FBI demand. It's not just marketing for @tim_cook and wasn't for Jobs. https://t.co/cZ1DOEs2RA
4/5 But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent
Apple has no problem trying to gather every bit of our personal data for marketing but obligated to protect privacy of dead mass murderers?
Any communications/tech CEO that isn't standing with Apple against the FBI is basically admitting that they've already been compromised.
Journalists: Crucial details in the @FBI v. #Apple case are being obscured by officials. Skepticism here is fair: https://t.co/lEVEvOxcNm
.@FBI “We want to get inside the iPhone no matter what.” @tim_cook “Not a chance.” FBI: “What if we made an album?” Tim: “I’m listening…”
Refusing access to #FBI shows terrorists they can get around FBI. Let's be clear: Apple is doing a service for our adversaries! #AppleVsFBI
"A man who is willing to trade security for liberty deserves neither." - Benjamin Franklin #AppleVsFBI #currentevents
The @FBI is creating a world where citizens rely on #Apple to defend their rights, rather than the other way around. https://t.co/vdjB6CuB7k
#AppleVsFBI is so much bigger than people realize. Keeping a close eye on this one
Speech can only be free when it is protected. —@mcuban #AppleVsFBI https://t.co/m41wKR31ET https://t.co/ng71CmYjeS
#Apple #AppleVsFBI Thanks @tim_cook for taking a stand https://t.co/tgWprQESyK https://t.co/qmFhovqIOl
I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery. Way to go #Apple. Born free staying free. #AppleVsFBI
Steve Jobs would've literally laughed in the FBI's face about them wanting Apple to create a backdoor to hack into a phone. #AppleVsFBI
Every candidate needs a mandatory 1 day crash course on encryption before poisoning public understanding of issue #GOPTownHall #AppleVsFBI
Keeping us safe by chipping away at our ability to preserve our right to privacy is the first step toward not being safe. @FBI #AppleVsFBI
So the company that put an entire U2 album onto my iPhone without asking is now all about privacy? #AppleVsFBI
There are no exceptions, we should never go down the slope of sacrificing privacy for the sake of security. #AppleVsFBI
Apple is right -- no matter how justified it may seem, turning over that data would set a terrible precedence. #ApplevsFBI
Thank you Tim Cook for making public a conflict that every citizen of the U.S. should be paying attention to. #AppleVsFBI
We should be less worried about apple and more worried about how the FBI can't get passed a locked iPhone #AppleVsFBI
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READ MORE: Why Are Apple and the FBI Battling Over an iPhone?

"As individuals and as a company, we have no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists," the Apple CEO wrote in his letter on Monday. "When they commit unspeakable acts like the tragic attacks in San Bernardino, we work to help the authorities pursue justice for the victims. And that's exactly what we did."

Cook said the government should withdraw its request, and that a commission be formed to explore the security and privacy issues raised by advances in technology. Apple is expected to file a response in court later this week.

"Apple is a uniquely American company," Cook wrote. "It does not feel right to be on the opposite side of the government in a case centering on the freedoms and liberties that government is meant to protect."

Apple also posted a series of questions and answers for customers on its website outlining the company's position on the court order filed last week that would require the company to assist the FBI in unlocking the phone.

The company says that it has not unlocked devices in the past at the request of law enforcement, and that it has worked with the FBI in this case to try to find other ways to get information off the locked iPhone.

READ MORE: FBI Fires Back at Apple: 'We Don't Want to Break Anyone's Encryption'

See more of Apple CEO Tim Cook:

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Tim Cook - Apple CEO
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Tim Cook on FBI fight: Apple has no 'sympathy for terrorists'
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 9: Apple CEO Tim Cook gestures on stage during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. announced the new MacBook as well as more details on the much anticipated Apple Watch, the tech giant's entry into the rapidly growing wearable technology segment as well (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
Apple interim CEO and Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook smiles before the start of the the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 8, 2009. Cook is the interim CEO while Steve Jobs is out on leave. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
In this July 16, 2010 photo shows Apple's Tim Cook, left, and Steve Jobs, right, during a meeting at Apple in Cupertino, Calif. Cook takes over as CEO for Apple after Jobs resigned. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Apple CEO Tim Cook during announcement at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 9: Apple CEO Tim Cook stands in front of an MacBook on display after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. announced the new MacBook as well as more details on the much anticipated Apple Watch, the tech giant's entry into the rapidly growing wearable technology segment as well (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
Apple CEO Tim Cook smiles before speaking to graduates during George Washington University's commencement exercises on the National Mall, Sunday, May 17, 2015 in Washington. The university awarded Cook with an honorary doctorate of public service. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 9: Apple CEO Tim Cook waves from stage after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. announced the new MacBook as well as more details on the much anticipated Apple Watch, the tech giant's entry into the rapidly growing wearable technology segment as well (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
Apple CEO Tim Cook responds to a question during a news conference at IBM Watson headquarters, in New York, Thursday, April 30, 2015. Apple, IBM and Japanese insurance and bank holding company Japan Post have formed a partnership to improve the lives of elderly people in the country. The program will provide iPads with apps designed to help seniors manage day-to-day lives and keep in touch with family members. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Apple chief executive and Alabama native Tim Cook, right, and Catherine Randall pose with a plaque during an Alabama Academy of Honor ceremony at the state Capitol Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, in Montgomery, Ala. Cook and seven others, including Alabama football head coach Nick Saban, were inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new Apple iPad Air 2 during an event at Apple headquarters on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., smiles as he visits the Apple Store during the launch and sale of the new iPhone 6 on Friday, Sept 19, 2014 Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc takes a photograph with Apple employees at the Apple Store during the launch and sale of the new iPhone 6 on Friday, Sept 19, 2014 Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the new Apple Watch and iPhone 6 on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Apple's CEO Tim Cook gestures during a promotional event that marks the opening day of sales of China Mobile's 4G iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c at a shop of the world's largest mobile phone operator in Beijing, China, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an event to announce new products in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
FILE- In this Wednesday, March 7, 2012, file photo, Apple CEO Tim Cook announces a new iPad during an Apple announcement in San Francisco. Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to show off new iPhone software, updated Mac computers and provide more details on future releases of Mac software when he kicks off the company's annual conference for software developers on Monday, June 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
FILE - In a Wednesday, March 7, 2012 file photo, Apple CEO Tim Cook announces a new iPad during an Apple announcement in San Francisco. On Tuesday, April 10, 2012, Apple, already the world's most valuable company, hit the $600 billion level for the first time. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., right, waves to customers while leaving the sales launch for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at the Apple Inc. store in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Apple Inc.'s stores attracted long lines of shoppers for the debut of the latest iPhones, indicating healthy demand for the bigger-screen smartphones. The larger iPhone 6 Plus is already selling out at some stores across the U.S. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., left, and the band U2 gesture during a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 16: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event on October 16, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the new iPad Air 2 tablet, iPad Mini 3 and a Retina iMac. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 02: Apple CEO Tim Cook walks off stage after speaking during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone West center on June 2, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Tim Cook kicked off the annual WWDC which is typically a showcase for upcoming updates to Apple hardware and software. The conference runs through June 6. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 17: (CHINA OUT) Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc., visits a China Mobile shop to celebrate the launch of iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C on China Mobile's fourth generation (4G) network on January 17, 2014 in Beijing, China. Apple Inc. and China Mobile Limited, the world's largest carrier with over 760 million subscribers, signed a deal on December 23, 2013 after six years of negotiations. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., displays the iPad Air for a photograph during a press event at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. Apple Inc. introduced new iPads in time for holiday shoppers, as it battles to stay ahead of rivals in the increasingly crowded market for tablet computers. Photographer: Noah Berger/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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