Blogger’s home raided over iPhone leak

If you think selling an iPhone for $5,000 is criminal, you could be right. But it appears one buyer may also be in legal trouble.

That buyer is tech site Gizmodo, which bought a prototype of the next edition of the iPhone after it was reportedly left in a California bar. The site took the device apart and published photographs before returning it to Apple. That wasn’t enough for the tech giant, which reported the theft to the district attorney’s office in San Mateo County.

One Gizmodo blogger, Jason Chen, returned home on Friday to find his property being raided by police. He says they took four computers, two servers and other devices, including an iPad (which must really have stung.) Rather bafflingly the police also seized a box of business cards.

The search warrant used by the officers said the equipment which could be seized fell into one of two categories: it was used as the means of committing a felony, or that it provided evidence that a felony had been committed.

Gawker Media, the company behind Gizmodo, has now complained that the search was illegal under California law as police cannot confiscate property belonging to a journalist.

That point is being debated among media lawyers. The consensus seems to be that it would have been more appropriate to issue a subpoena demanding Chen hand over the property rather than get a warrant to seize it. That would have allowed Chen a chance to argue his position in court before the computers were forcibly taken.