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Gizmodo Editor Jason Chen's House Raided: Felony Charges to Follow iPhone Scoop?

Screengrab from Gizmodo.com of Jason Chen with prototype iPhone Gizmodo.com

Screengrab from Gizmodo.com of Jason Chen with prototype iPhone. (Gizmodo.com)
SEATTLE (CBS/AP) A Gizmodo editor is getting squeezed by the long arm of Steve Jobs after California officials raided his home and seized computers and tech gadgets following his expose of Apple's newest iPhone prototype.

Gawker Media, the parent company of Gizmodo, immediately issued a press release condemning the search and seizure by a computer crime task force, at the home of editor Jason Chen in Fremont, Calif., about 25 miles south of Oakland.

Nick Denton, who runs Gawker media, said California law, which protects journalists from having to turn over anonymous sources or unpublished material to law enforcement during a search, should apply to Chen's property.

"Are bloggers journalists? I guess we'll find out," Denton wrote in an email.

Last week, Gizmodo had one of the Web's hottest scoops when it posted photos of an Apple device that appeared to be a prototype for the next-generation iPhone. It had been found in a bar in Redwood City, Calif., about 25 miles south of San Francisco, and sold for $5,000 by an unknown person to Gizmodo, a gadget blog.

After Chen, 29, posted photos and details about the phone, Apple acknowledged the device belonged to the company, and Gizmodo returned it.

But that didn't stop Apple from calling authorities to report that "there had been a theft," according to Stephen Wagstaffe, the chief deputy district attorney for San Mateo County.

Wagstaff said the district attorney had not decided whether they would pursue charges against Chen, but did say that the warrant stated that the evidence seized may have been involved in a felony. Members of the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team took several computers, hard drives, digital cameras, cell phones and other gadgets, plus Chen's American Express bill and copies of his checks.

Chen said a detective told him the search stemmed from "a misunderstanding that could be cleared up if I answered some questions." He refused to answer questions, according to the New York Daily News.

  • Carlin Miller

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