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Authorities seized computers, digital cameras, a cell phone and other items from a technology blog editor who posted pictures and details of a lost iPhone prototype.

A computer-crime task force made up of multiple law enforcement agencies searched editor and blogger Jason Chen’s house and car in Fremont, Calif., on Friday, according to a statement and search warrant documents provided by Gizmodo.

The warrant, issued by a Superior Court judge in San Mateo County, said the computers and other devices may have been used to commit a felony. Steve Wagstaffe, spokesman for the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office, confirmed the warrant’s authenticity.


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.

Last week Gizmodo had one of the Web’s hottest scoops when it posted photos of an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) device that appeared to be a next-generation iPhone. It had been found in a bar in Redwood City, which is in San Mateo County, and sold for $5,000 by an unknown person to Gizmodo, a gadget blog owned by Gawker Media Inc.

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

Gawker Media said California law, which protects journalists from having to turn over anonymous sources or unpublished material to law enforcement during a search, should apply to Chen’s property.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," Nick Denton, who runs Gawker Media, wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Wagstaffe said the district attorney’s office is examining that issue.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment.

If charges are filed, they “would most likely be filed against the person or people who sold the prototype iPhone and possibly the buyer,” the New York Times has reported.

According to Gizmodo, the device was left at a bar by Gray Powell, an Apple employee and a 2006 graduate of N.C. State.

“Apple Software Engineer named Gray Powell” made “the honest mistake … of losing the next-generation iPhone,” Gizmodo reported. The site said Powell is an “Apple Software Engineer working on the iPhone Baseband Software, the little program that enables the iPhone to make calls. A dream job for a talented engineer like Powell, an Apple fan who always wanted to meet Steve Jobs.”

The phone was left at a bar in Redwood City, Calif. on March 18.

“’I underestimated how good German beer is,’ he typed into the next-generation iPhone he was testing on the field, cleverly disguised as an iPhone 3GS,” Gizmodo reported about Powell.

AOL Inc.’s Engadget blog published photos more than a week ago that were taken by an unknown person of an iPhone-esque device.

Denton, the founder of Gawker Media, has said the company paid $5,000 for the phone.

Gizmodo called the device "the real thing" and offered detailed evidence to support the assertion.