Police ID Person Who Found New iPhone

Photo: Apple iPhone leak

The case of the leaked Apple iPhone continues to unfold.

Police have identified the person who found the prototype of the new iPhone after it was left behind at a bar by an Apple engineer, according to local reports. But authorities haven't said if the same person sold the phone to tech blog Gizmodo for $5,000.

Last week, the Internet went wild when Gizmodo published an exclusive story about a prototype of the next generation of Apple's iPhone -- scheduled for release this summer.

VIDEO: An Apple employees absentmindedness leads to a look at the new 4G iPhone.
Gizmodo Gets Their Hands on Apple's New iPhone

But earlier this week, the site revealed that Friday police entered the home of Jason Chen, a Gizmodo editor who wrote about the next-generation iPhone, to seize computers and other gadgets.

No One Charged With Crime, District Attorney's Office Says

Investigators have identified and interviewed the person who picked up the prototype phone after Apple engineer Gray Powell left it at a Redwood City, Calif., bar March 18, the San Jose Business Journal said Tuesday.

"We're still not saying it's a crime," San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the Journal. "The investigation has contacted as many segments of the people involved in this situation, including the person who took the phone from the German restaurant. The police know who he is and they have talked to him."

Wagstaffe said Powell and outside counsel for Apple contacted the district attorney's office Wednesday or Thursday of last week to report a theft and ask for an investigation, the Journal said. Then they were referred to the Rapid Enforcement and Allied Computer Team, or REACT, the high-tech crime task force that ultimately confiscated computers from Gizmodo's Chen.

In response to the police seizure, Gawker Media LLC, Gizmodo's parent company, wrote a letter invoking the California shield law for journalists and said the search warrant to enter Chen's home was invalid.

Wagstaffe said the investigation is on hold until it's determined whether those protections apply in this case.

Wired: Apple May Have Tracked Down Finder of the iPhone

Representatives of Apple may have also visited the person who found the famous iPhone, Wired magazine reported Tuesday night.

"Someone came to [the finder's] house and knocked on his door," a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Wired.com. The person said a roommate answered the door but wouldn't let them enter the room.

The source said that the person who found the phone tried to notify Apple and the owner, but failed. The person then tried to contact the press to confirm its authenticity and locate the owner, the source said.

"The idea wasn't to find out who was going to pay the most, it was, who's going to confirm this?" the source told Wired, adding that the $5,000 agreement with Gawker was for exclusivity only. Gizmodo was supposed to help return the phone to the owner or return it to the person who found the phone, the source said.

Wired also said that it received an e-mail from a tipster in March who offered access to the device, but Wired did not follow-up after the tipster made "a thinly veiled request for money."

Web Reacts to Fallout from Gizmodo's Scoop

The whole drama has sent off a lively debate online, triggering arguments as to whether bloggers are journalists, whether Gizmodo's actions were illegal or merely unethical and whether Apple orchestrated the whole to-do as an elaborate marketing ploy.

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