Police on Friday seized several computers from the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen, after they were granted a warrant allowing them to confiscate property that “may have been used as the means of committing a felony.” The warrant specifically mentions that officials are looking for information about the iPhone 4G, a prototype of which Gizmodo obtained from a source who found it after an Apple engineer left it behind in a bar.
Gizmodo previously admitted paying $5,000 to acquire the phone, and has stated that they “didn’t know it was stolen.” Gaby Darbyshire, COO of Gizmodo parent Gawker Media, believes any information on Chen’s computers is protected under California’s shield law, which allows journalists to protect anonymous sources. “Jason is a journalist who works full-time for our company,” she wrote in a letter to the officer who executed the warrant. According to Darbyshire, the law protects any “unpublished information” on Chen’s computers, and she requested the “immediate return” of all seized property.
Gizmodo had previously replied to a letter from Apple’s lawyers by saying they were “happy to see [the phone] returned to its rightful owner.”
Update: The case is reportedly on hold as the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office reviews Gizmodo’s shield law defense. According to one report, Chen’s computers haven’t been examined yet, and won’t be until after the DA completes the review. (Thanks, GetEmSteveDave!)
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