Police raid editor's home in iPhone leak fallout


— 11:10 AM on April 27, 2010

Remember how Gizmodo recently came into possession of a fourth-generation iPhone prototype misplaced by an Apple engineer? Although some onlookers initially suspected a deliberate publicity stunt by Apple, the aftermath of the leak seems to rule that out. Specifically, Gizmodo reports that California police has raided the home of editor Jason Chen and confiscated his computers.

The news post includes scans of the search warrant, which says there is "probable cause to believe" that Chen's property was "used as the means of committing a felony" and "tends to show that a felony has been committed." California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team apparently seized four Apple laptops, one Dell desktop PC, an HP home server, and various other items, including Chen's iPad, a digital SLR camera, and a box of business cards.

Gaby Darbyshire, the legal representative for Gizmodo owner Gakwer Media, subsequently wrote to Detective Matthew Broad of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, alleging that the raid violated section 1524(g) of California's penal code. Darbyshire says the code states a search warrant "may not be validly issued to confiscate the property of a journalist." And before you think Chen might not be seen as a journalist under the law, Darbyshire cites precedent: the California Court of Appeals purportedly "recognized that these protections apply to online journalists" in a 2006 decision.

Gizmodo admitted last week that it paid $5,000 in cash for the lost prototype, although it did make efforts to return it to the Apple engineer who lost it... after getting the scoop of the decade.

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