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Apple: We never gave our source code to China

In reply to a hint that the company had cooperated with the Chinese government by handing over source code to the software that runs iPhones and iPads, Apple's general counsel says the firm hadn't done so.

Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell

Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell

Yin Bogu/Xinhua Press/Corbis

No way.

That's what Apple told the Chinese government when asked to hand over source code for its products, according to Bruce Sewell, general counsel for the consumer-electronics giant. During congressional testimony on Tuesday, Sewell said the request from China came within the last two years.

"We have been asked by the Chinese government," Sewell said. "We refused."

Sewell's testimony refuted earlier testimony by a law enforcement official, who suggested the company had cooperated with China.

The statements were part of a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on encryption, an issue that has come to the fore since Apple and the US Department of Justice faced off over an iPhone used by a terrorist. The hearing included views from both sides, which testified separately.

During the law enforcement panel, Charles Cohen of the Indiana State Police suggested Apple had given information to the Chinese government.

"I saw several news stories that said Apple provided the source code for iOS to China," he said without identifying the publications. iOS is the operating system for iPhones and iPads.

China is Apple's second-largest market and accounted for $18.4 billion in revenue during the company's first quarter. The Americas region, which includes the US, is its largest market, with $29.3 billion.