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Thursday, May 06, 2010, 05:00 pm PT (08:00 pm ET)

Media request to unseal docs in Gizmodo iPhone case rejected

A request filed by the Associated Press and other media organization to obtain the sealed affidavit used to obtain the search warrant for the raid on Gizmodo blogger Jason Chen's home has been denied.

Judge Stephen Hall of San Mateo County refused to consider the request, instead deferring the case to the judge who granted the search warrant, who will hear arguments on the matter next week, according to a report filed by CNET.

The request was opposed by the District Attorney's office, which argued in a legal brief that prosecutors needed to "maintain the security of an ongoing investigation, which may well be compromised by the disclosure of the search warrant affidavit."

At issue in the affidavit are the names of "two individuals of interest, whom police do not want to alert," the report said, citing comments from an attorney for the media coalition filling the brief who spoke with chief deputy district attorney Stephen Wagstaffe.

Wagstaffe said the affidavit is "not a public record and thus is not subject to requests under any public-records act" and defended the decision to search Chen's home, saying, "our belief is that it's a proper search."

The EFF and other media groups have criticized the search as being improper because Chen's home office could be considered a newsroom, and therefore protected under shield laws designed to prevent police from investigating journalists' sources.

However, prosecutors say the search was related to a felony theft investigation rather than simply being an effort to determine Chen's sources as a journalist.