Feds: Man jailed for not decrypting drives has “chutzpah” to ask to get out

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Federal prosecutors wrote to a US judge Wednesday saying that a child-porn suspect jailed for nearly two years for refusing to decrypt his hard drives should remain jailed until he complies with a court order to unlock them. The defendant has a lot of “chutzpah” to even ask to get out of jail while he appeals the contempt-of-court order to the US Supreme Court, prosecutors said in a new court filing.

The dispute concerns a now-fired Philadelphia cop who has been jailed since September 30, 2015 for refusing to decrypt two hard drives that authorities found at his residence as part of a federal child-porn investigation. Lawyers for Francis Rawls want him released pending an appeal to the Supreme Court, which has never decided on whether forcing somebody to decrypt hardware amounts to a Fifth Amendment violation.

“He does not offer to comply with the original order, nor does he assert that it is impossible for him to do so. Nevertheless, he asks the Court to allow him to go free. The Court should deny the motions,” federal prosecutor Michael Levy wrote (PDF) the federal judge who will preside over a hearing on the dispute Thursday.

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