Father Requests Tim Cook to Unlock his Dead Son’s iPhone


Leonardo Fabbretti, an architect and a grieving father in Italy, has requested Apple in a direct letter to CEO Tim Cook, to unlock his dead son’s iPhone so that he can retrieve the photographs stored on it (via The Guardian). His son Dama (pictured below) was adopted from Ethiopia in 2007, and was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2013 after a skiing accident. He passed away in September aged 13 after a series of failed operations and chemotherapy sessions.


Fabbretti has said that if Apple fails to do so, he would then turn to the Israeli mobile forensics firm that reportedly helped the FBI crack the iPhone used by gunman Syed Farook in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. “Don’t deny me the memories of my son,” architect Fabbretti wrote. “I cannot give up. Having lost my Dama, I will fight to have the last two months of photos, thoughts and words which are held hostage in his phone,” he said in the letter, sent on 21 March.

“I think what’s happened should make you think about the privacy policy adopted by your company. Although I share your philosophy in general, I think Apple should offer solutions for exceptional cases like mine.” Fabbretti said he had given his son an iPhone 6 nearly nine months before his death, which he used all the time. “He wanted me to have access, he added my fingerprint ID,” he told AFP. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t work if the phone is turned off and on again.”

Fabbretti also said that Israeli mobile forensics firm Cellebrite had offered to try to open Dama’s phone free of charge.


  • sully54

    This is getting ridiculous.

  • Bafoon

    as a father, I feel for this guy. but this is the pandora’s box that FBI opened when they made the request last week; and then proceeded to gloat over the fact that they had a third party successfully hack into the phone.

    It was extremely irresponsible by them to proceed so publicly on this topic.

  • Jay

    Agreed -_-
    I think ill email cook and tell him I want him to reset my wifi password….
    Ill have just as much luck as this guy

  • Doug

    Couldn’t he just plug his phone into the computer it was initially paired with.

  • Wall Man

    It’s a bad situation, for sure and I feel bad for him. However, why didn’t he have the the passcode in the first place? I mean as a parent don’t you oversee your children’s devices? So he did have touch ID setup, but didn’t update the passcode?

    My wife has my passcode to unlock my phone.

  • SV650

    Everyone needs to find a way to pass on their passwords etc to someone to manage their digital affairs should the need arise. Depending on the situation, there may be multiple individuals who need access to part of the information we hoard. Finding an appropriate means to provide such access becomes the challenge. For many of the organizations I am involved with, we have created shared workspaces, so more than one person has access. For personal stuff, a passphrase spread amongst a few trusted friends may be a way to provide protected access to a password file.

    Additionally, there was ample opportunity for the necessary information to be passed from son to father to allow access on an ongoing basis. The missed opportunities far exceed the information contained on the phone.

  • poopchute

    What makes you think the phone was EVER paired with a computer?

  • Chris Kim

    I don’t understand what the dad means when he said his thumbprint has access, but it doesn’t work when the phone was turned off / on? Since when does that happen? I have multiple thumbprints on my phone (left thumb and right thumb) and both remain when the phone is turned off and on….?

    Other than that, agree with everyone else here – I sympathize with the father, but Apple can’t start making exceptions like this, because the line will become grayer and grayer…

  • Wall Man

    When you physically power down your phone, or iPad, and power up again, it will ask you for a passcode. The fingerprints won’t work the first time.

    This is not just the sleep mode, but where you press and hold the power button and slide to power off.

    Not sure which iOS this started with, I want to say iOS7.