Police Seize Gizmodo Editor's Computers and Other Property Related to Lost Next-Generation iPhone [Updated]
Gizmodo reports that police officers entered the home of its editor Jason Chen last Friday night, seizing four computers, two servers, and other items as authorized by a search warrant related to the site's purchase of a next-generation iPhone lost by an Apple employee in a Redwood City, California bar.
A total of 24 items related to the investigation were seized by officers, who broke down the door to Chen's unoccupied residence to execute the search warrant. Chen, who returned home from a dinner out to find the police in his home, notes that he discussed with the officers claims made by Gaby Darbyshire, Chief Operating Officer of Gizmodo's parent company Gawker Media that such a search warrant should be considered illegal under journalist protection statutes. Officers proceeded, however, with their search and seizure.
According to Gaby Darbyshire, COO of Gawker Media LLC, the search warrant to remove these computers was invalid under section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code.
Gawker has filed its objection with the police department and requested an immediate return of the seized items.
Update: TechCrunch provides some additional color on the situation, reporting that the authorities have temporarily put the investigation on hold as they study whether they agree with Gizmodo's claims that journalist shield laws should apply to the situation. Consequently, police have not yet begun to examine the evidence seized from Chen's residence.
I just spoke to Stephen Wagstaffe, Chief Deputy at San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, who told me that nobody has yet been charged in the case, and at this point it is "just an investigation". He says the investigation is "looking at any hand that touched or had something to do with this phone" but that the investigation is not currently targeting either Gawker or the person who originally found the phone -- rather, police are collecting every fact they can to present to the DA, who will then make a decision.