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Editor’s gear seized in iPhone probe

Associated Press / April 27, 2010

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SEATTLE — Authorities seized computers, digital cameras, a cellphone, and other items from a blog editor who posted pictures and details of a lost iPhone prototype.

A computer-crime task force made up of multiple law enforcement agencies searched Gizmodo editor and blogger Jason Chen’s house and car in Fremont, Calif., on Friday, according to a statement and search warrant documents that were provided by Gizmodo.

The warrant, issued by a judge in San Mateo County, said the computers and other devices may have been used to commit a felony. Steve Wagstaffe, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, confirmed the warrant’s authenticity.

Members of the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team took several computers, hard drives, digital cameras, cellphones, and other gadgets, plus Chen’s American Express bill and copies of his checks.

Last week, Gizmodo had one of the Web’s hottest scoops when it posted photos of an Apple device that appeared to be a next-generation iPhone. It had been found in a bar in Redwood City, Calif., which is in San Mateo County, and sold for $5,000 by an unknown person to Gizmodo, a gadget blog owned by Gawker Media Inc.

After Chen posted photos and details about the phone, Apple acknowledged the device belonged to the company, and Gizmodo returned it.

Gawker Media said California’s shield law, which protects journalists from having to turn over anonymous sources or unpublished material to law enforcement during a search, should apply to Chen’s property.

Wagstaffe said the district attorney’s office is examining that issue.

Apple declined to comment.