An affidavit and search warrant unsealed at the behest of the Los Angeles Times and other news organizations revealed that authorities in Silicon Valley searched a reporter's home in order to obtain more evidence on a suspect who sold an Apple iPhone prototype to the writer.
The Times reports that Gizmodo journalist Jason Chen was not a target of the investigation into how the coveted, next-generation iPhone was lost and ended up in the hands of an area man who peddled it to technology websites. The unsealed documents reveal that the finder, Brian Hogan, was actually set to receive $10,000 for the phone — not the $5,000 previously reported. At one point Steve Jobs himself appealed to Gizmodo to get the phone back.
News outlets have come to the defense of Chen because, as a journalist, he should be afforded rights under California's shield law that protects reporters from having to reveal sources or notes. Authorities last month broke into his home and took his computers — all based on the warrant and affidavit.
It's mind-blowing to think that authorities — acting at the behest of a corporate giant — can simply seize a journalist's computers in order to find out information about someone the reporter interviewed. (What is this, China?).This case is a little more complicated, however, as Chen and Gizmodo paid for a phone that might or might not be stolen property. Stay tuned.