The U.S. Justice Department on Friday dropped its effort to force Apple Inc to help unlock an iPhone in a drug case in New York after someone provided authorities the passcode to access the device.
In a letter filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, prosecutors said that investigators late on Thursday used that passcode to access the iPhone at issue, and as a result "no longer needs Apple's assistance."
The letter marked a sudden end to a closely watched case, in which the Justice Department had been appealing a ruling by a federal magistrate judge holding that he could not force Apple to assist authorities.
The case gained further significance after prosecutors in March dropped a similar effort to force Apple to help access an iPhone used by one of the shooters in December's San Bernardino killings, after a third party provided a way to crack it.
Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said the cases have "never been about setting a court precedent; they are about law enforcement's ability and need to access evidence on devices pursuant to lawful court orders and search warrants."
An Apple spokesman declined comment.