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Secretive Apple squirms in gaze of US monitor

Most companies are reluctant to open themselves to outside inspection. Yet Apple is even resisting someone who was appointed by a court to do exactly that, leading to an unusual public feud between the world's biggest technology company and the Justice Department.

In recent weeks, Apple has been campaigning aggressively against Michael R. Bromwich, a Washington lawyer who was appointed by a federal judge in October. His task was to make sure that Apple complied with antitrust laws after the company was found last summer to have conspired with five publishers to fix prices for e-books.

(Read more: What to expect from Apple, Microsoft and Facebook)

Balint Porneczi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple argues that Mr. Bromwich is intruding with its daily operations by demanding interviews with board members and with senior executives, even the chief executive, Tim Cook. Apple's court papers compare the monitor with an unchecked "independent prosecutor."

And it says that Mr. Bromwich, who is charging $1,100 an hour for his services, is using his appointment to embark on an inquisition to generate high fees for himself and his Washington consulting firm.

(Read more: Courtbacks Apple in patent fight with Google)

The monitor, Apple says, will get in the way of the company's ability to innovate and develop new technologies.

Such resistance is not completely surprising. Silicon Valley technology companies routinely keep a tight wrap on their products and operations. But even among its peers, Apple, whose best-known products are the iPhone and the iPad, stands out for its level of secrecy.

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