MSNBC reports that the Associated Press and other news organizations have asked a judge to unseal the search warrant affidavit used to raid the home of Gizmodo.com editor Jason Chen. The warrant used for the raid was already made public and indicated that it was related to a "suspected felony." No charges have been filed and the confiscated material – computers, hard drives, digital cameras, cell phones, financial documents, etc. – remains in the hands of law enforcement.
Steve Wagstaffe, spokesman for the San Mateo County district attorney’s office, said that the confiscated items "are not being examined while prosecutors consider arguments that the search was illegal." Meanhwile Chen’s attorney, Thomas Burke of Davis Wright Tremaine in San Francisco, said in a recent interview that the search warrant should have never been issued because California law protects journalists from such searches without a special hearing.
The legality of the raid is one of many unanswered questions media outlets are asking – more specifically, reasons for the search warrant being more compelling than the legal protections given to journalists under California law. Curiously, Court documents revealing legal reasons for a particular search are usually made public within 10 days, but the affidavit supporting this raid remains sealed.
The "suspected felony" relates to an iPhone prototype phone that was sold to Gawker Media’s Gizmodo for $5,000 after a hapless Apple engineer left it in a Silicon Valley bar and later found by another bar patron.