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Cops raid Gizmodo editor in pursuit of iPhone 4G 'felony'

Search warrant invalid, counters Gawker

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Gizmodo editor Jason Chen has been raided by Silicon Valley's computer crime force in hot pursuit of the case of the missing iPhone prototype. According to a bulletin published by Gizmodo today, they broke down the front door to gain entry, and departed some hours later with a truck containing Chen's computer equipment.

The inventory of the relocated kit is published alongside the Gizmodo story, and is possibly slightly smaller than one might have expected, although it's entirely unclear to us why they might have felt the need for a whole box of business cards belonging to "suspect chen".

The search - which was conducted partially in Chen's absence - was carried out under a warrant issued by the Superior Court of San Mateo. Chen disputed its validity when he arrived on the scene, and furnished the officers with a statement from Gaby Darbyshire, COO and chief legal officer of Gizmodo parent Gawker, claiming that both state and federal law state that a search warrant may not validly be issued to confiscate the property of a journalist.

Darbyshire quotes section 1524(g) of the CA Penal Code and section 1070 of the CA Evidence Code. The Penal Code states: "No warrant shall issue for any item or items described in Section 1070 of the Evidence Code", while the Evidence Code section quoted covers the protection of journalists and publishers from having to disclose information on sources, and unpublished information, including "all notes, outtakes, photographs, tapes or other data".

Darbyshire says it's "abundantly clear" that the search warrant was invalid, that a subpoena should have been issued instead, and that Chen should get all his gear back pronto.

And perhaps he should. The warrant however, invalid or not, gives a clear indication of the way the cops' minds are drifting. The warrant claims that there is probable cause that the seized property was lawfully seizable under Section 1524 in that "it was used as the means of committing a felony [and] it tends to show that a felony has been committed or that a particular person has committed a felony".

So they seem to think there's a felony case against Jason Chen: pays finder $5,000 for a lost iPhone prototype, knows who owner of lost iPhone prototype is, doesn't give it back to him or police, runs screamer exclusive instead? Hmm, wonder what gave them that idea? ®

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