The computers of the California-based Gizmodo reporter who unveiled how a next-generation iPhone prototype was apparently left carelessly at a bar were seized over the weekend, the website reports.

The California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team served search warrants on Jason Chen's residence Friday, apparently as part of an investigation into how he came away with the story of the lost iPhone. The team took four computers and two servers, Gizmodo stated.

The website is arguing that the search and seizure was illegal, as Chen's residence should be considered to be “his de facto newsroom” because he works from home. The company's chief operating officer, Gaby Darbyshire, wrote in a letter to authorities that Chen's home and computers should have been protected from such a search under California's “shield law” that prevents reporters from having to divulge sources or notes.

Chen writes that officers broke into his home and later told him he could be reimbursed for the damage.

CNET reported last week that Apple had contacted local authorities, apparently in a bid to get them to find out how the iPhone ended up Gizmodo's hands for earlier posts.

Nick Denton, head of Gizmodo parent company Gawker, said he paid $5,000 for the phone after someone who claimed to have found it at a Redwood City, Calif. bar offered it up.

LA Weekly