A Philadelphia man suspected of possessing child pornography has
been in jail for seven months and counting after being found in contempt of
a court order demanding that he decrypt two password-protected hard drives.
The suspect, a former Philadelphia Police Department sergeant, has not
been charged with any child porn crimes. Instead, he remains indefinitely
imprisoned in Philadelphia’s Federal Detention Center for refusing to
unlock two drives encrypted with Apple’s FileVault software in a case that
once again highlights the extent to which the authorities are going to
crack encrypted devices. The man is to remain jailed “until such time that
he fully complies” with the decryption order.
The suspect’s attorney, Federal Public Defender Keith Donoghue, urged a
federal appeals court on Tuesday to release his client immediately, pending
the outcome of appeals. “Not only is he presently being held without
charges, but he has never in his life been charged with a crime,” Donoghue
wrote in his brief to the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals.